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Sunday Readings: 24-August-2008

24 August 2008

And a good time is had by all…

When I was living in Mexico City, I started going to at least one “must visit” site a week.  I finally gave up, when I calculated that at the rate of one a week, I’d be well over 100 by the time I finished my tour.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Christine DeSol doesn’t quite give all the sites, but she did come up with “Ten great reasons to visit Mexico City,” suitable to anyone’s tastes:

The “Manhattan of Latin America” has more nightclubs and bars than any other city; you could spend a month there and never exhaust its party potential. Though the older, more traditional bars are mostly for men, the city has plenty of watering holes where women will be comfortable. Bars at the chic boutique hotels are a safe and stylish bet. The airy, third-floor bar at Ivoire, overlooking Lincoln Park, is a good place have a drink and mix with a crowd of young Mexicans. For dancing, try Love, in the Roma (don’t expect a lot of action until after midnight), or Loma, a restaurant bar in Polanco, with a silvery floor and bizarre lighting.

… It’s not the first place you’d think of for a family vacation, but Mexico City can provide a week’s worth of fun for kids. Chapultapec Park, with its children’s museum, zoo, pony rides, rowboats and bicycle rentals, amusement and water parks, is a world of wonder all by itself.

Cost Plus

…………… PLUS

The border wall is so wrong on so many levels, sometimes we miss the most obvious problems. For that, you need an expert. A North Carolina fence contractor starts running the numbers:

Since I am the owner of Raleigh Fence Contractors, LLC, in the Triangle area of North Carolina, I immediately pulled my calculator out to see the CPF (cost per foot) on this fence. My first problem is that my ProjectCalc Plus doesn’t hold enough digits to calculate past 7 figures! I guess I never knew that since my projects never go over 5 figures. Of course, I haven’t ever landed one of those government projects either! So, after using a different calculator, I determined that we are paying over $3000.00 per foot for a border fence. Is this another version of our government paying $300 for staplers? Why does it cost so much to build this fence? It is a 15′ tall steel mesh fence. So, more research was in order.

Take Me Out To the Ball Game

Saul Landau in the 19-August-2008 Counterpunch asks is it “Baseball Diplomacy or Just Baseball” when a little leage team’s trip to an exhibition game in Havana led to Congressional infighting:

When Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) learned about a scheduled trip of 11 and 12 year old kids from Vermont and New Hampshire to Havana, he suffered a near panic attack. He then demanded an emergency meeting with officials from the State Department and Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The obedient executive branch agency of course obeyed and scheduled the session.

Diaz Balart and his brother Mario, who also represents a south Florida district filled with Cuban exiles, get their knickers in a twist whenever they learn of any event that might even slightly dent the harsh rules of embargo and travel ban that they along with the other members of the Hate-Castro industry.

The monster within

Edmundo Rocha, Scholars and Rogues, on the hidden human cost to citizens of immigration raids and deportations (The Politics of Humanity: “A Hidden System”)

…many of us would like to believe we are courageous enough to resist unjust authority and would never abandon our core beliefs in the face of social pressures. However, the reality is, we can never predict our actions without being placed in similar situations.

Perhaps no one understands the roots of cruelty better than Philip Zimbardo. He is known for conducting the famous Stanford Prison Experiment, which demonstrated how, under the right circumstances, ordinary people could quickly become amoral monsters.

Mistakes do not happen…

It’s not just “illegals” that are at risk from ICE, and not just along the U.S./Mexican border. Nina Shapiro gets the run-around from government liars spokespersons when she covers the case of the Army veteran held for seven months at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington (13-August 2008 Seattle Weekly, “Detainees Refute Northwest ICE’s Denials of Abuse”):

The report also references work by the NWIRP, which identified nine detainees at the facility, from July 2006 until early 2008, who turned out to be U.S. citizens. Because detainees have no right to a court-appointed attorney, and federal statistics show that most detainees are not in fact represented, it is difficult once detained to prove that you don’t belong there, according to NWIRP executive director Jorge Barón.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesperson Lorie Dankers immediately called the report a “work of fiction” and noted that it cited only anonymous sources….

Immigration officials should be able to determine whether a foreign national is a citizen or legal resident by checking a federal database that registers such information. Josephson repeatedly asked Malloy whether the database had turned up any verification of Castillo’s claims. Malloy said it did not. But there had been a filing screw-up that resulted in two “alien” numbers for Castillo, according to legal papers, and Malloy was checking under the wrong number. In April 2006, Castillo received Army documentation of his service which referred to the second alien number (similar to a Social Security number for immigrants). Still, he was not released until June, after the Board of Immigration Appeals remanded the case back to the immigration judge, who reversed the deportation order.

“ICE never knowingly detains a U.S. citizen,” says Dankers.

But apparently, as Castillo’s case shows, ICE makes mistakes.

Et in arcadia ergo…

ICE isn’t the only branch of Homeland Security to be ripped a new one (justifiably). Emily Feder (18-August-2008 Alternet) found that At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office:

After 28 hours of traveling, I had settled into a hazy awareness that this was the last, most familiar leg of a long journey. I exchanged friendly words with the Homeland Security official who was recording my name in his computer. He scrolled through my passport, and when his thumb rested on my Syrian visa, he paused. Jerking toward the door of his glass-enclosed booth, he slid my passport into a dingy green plastic folder and walked down the hallway, motioning for me to follow with a flick of his wrist. Where was he taking me, I asked him. “You’ll find out,” he said…

After four hours, I finally demanded to speak to the guards’ supervisor, and he was called down. I asked if the detainees could file a formal complaint. He said there were complaint forms (which, in English and Spanish, direct one to the Department of Homeland Security’s Web site, where one must enter extensive personal information in order to file a “Trip Summary”) but initially refused to hand them out or to give me his telephone number. “The Department of Homeland Security is understaffed, underfunded, and I have men here who are doing 14-hour days.” He tried to intimidate me when I wrote down his name — “So, you’re writing down our names. Well, we have more on you” — and asked me questions about my address and my profession in front of the rest of the people detained.

I have traveled to many different places, some supposedly repressive, and have never seen people treated with the kind of animosity that Homeland Security showed that night. In Syria, border control officers were stern but polite. At other borders there have been bureaucracies to contend with — excruciating for both Americans and other foreign nationals. I’ve met Russian officials with dead, suspicious looks in their eyes and arms tired from stamping so many visas, but in America, the Homeland Security officials I encountered were very much alive — like vultures waiting to eat.

The “liberal media” …

I don’t know what kind of review — if any — my book will be getting from the New York Times.  Their undersanding of Latin America has always been poor at best, and biased at worst, and generally reported by people without a clue as to what is going on.  Abiding In Bolivia wonders how the Times missed the obvious fascist goons running around the “autonomous regions”:

Could it be, that actual the pro-autonomy guys driving around with bats, swastikas, neonazi crosses, and calling themselves the “Santa Cruz Youth Union” are actually wanna be fascist youth? That the leaders of the autonomy movement are desperately trying to stoke violence confrontation in order to delegitimize Morales’ hugely popular government and justify their wildest cumtastic fantasies in a golpe de estado? Hmm, so how are we going to explain ourselves out of this one now that we’ve been cheering these racists and fascists on for months in their struggle against Morales?

Ah, the New York Times editorial desk gives us a good one. Call for everyone to deescalate their fiery rhetoric. You know, all that divisiveness Morales has been sowing, forcing our good pro autonomy movement towards violence. Yeah. Morales needs to compromise. That’s it.

Mr. Morales and his rivals must tone down their rhetoric and start looking for a solution. It is possible to empower and improve the lives of Bolivia’s long-neglected indigenous peoples while also incorporating legitimate demands for regional autonomy. An equitable division of the nation’s gas wealth can be negotiated.

Hey, actually I’ve got a suggestion for you asswipes at the NYT editorial desk. Get one of your interns who reads Spanish and have them pull up a copy of the proposed constitution and actually read it. Because you know what they will find. That it does exactly what you’ve just called for. That’s right, the Media Luna gets their autonomy and fair share of gas wealth, along with the impoverished indigenous majority.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 24 August 2008 9:31 am

    I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

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