Evidence points to industrial pig farm as source of outbreak; if so, Bernice Wuethrich tried to warn us.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Seems like Condi Rice et al need to have their day in court.....
We should all be lucky that George Bush didn't authorize nuking San Francisco....with this "reasoning" Condi Rice would have conveyed whatever Bush authorized.
Maybe Condi Rice should have spent all of her time buying shoes in New York. We would have all been better off.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Georgianne Nienaber: DR Congo: Report Says 100,000 Civilians at Risk of Attack and Humanitarian Aid Desperately Needed
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Monday, April 27, 2009
What does money for a flu pandemic have to do with an economic stimulus package? Probably the same reasoning that put highway funding into the stimulus package. Once again, President Obama was correct. We needed to get the flu pandemic program underway ASAP....and it would have been money well spent providing jobs and creating the health infrastructure to deal with a pandemic.
Who dares to say that we are safer with Republicans in charge? What a silly myth that is promoted by the "corporate controlled" media. The party that ignored the warnings on 911, was a disaster even when they had fair warning (i.e. Katrina when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and even the White House Chief of Staff were ALL on vacation) and now the Republican NO's have messed up another potential disaster.
I "betcha" Dick Cheney still has a lot of money invested in Tamiflu.....and the timing of this flu epidemic is taking some heat off of Cheney and the torture issue....while those poor enlisted soldiers who took the fall continue to be behind bars.
Thank heavens we finally have a competent President for a welcome change.
Ember Swift visited China and fell in love with this country. She is now living in China and her music has undergone major tranformations. According to Ember:
Lentic as an adjective describes my new pace of life, not to mention embodying the opposite meaning of "Ember Swift" (fire and speed). When I hold this name next to my new body of work, I can breathe.
Since the "new body of work" has not arrived I decided that a trip down memory lane is in order. Ember and Lyndell used to end there shows with PEK....so enjoy....
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Five-time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter is still raving about the experience she had performing with Kate Campbell, Claire Holley and Caroline Herring at the Eudora Welty Centennial Concert in Jackson, Mississippi last week. Mary Chapin spoke to us from her farm--a sanctuary that she shares with her husband, six dogs, six cats, and a "menagerie" of other animals, all nestled securely up against the Blue Ridge mountains in south central Virginia.
Image: Mary Chapin Carpenter (Credit: Traci Goudie)
"It is pretty hard to leave home, but it was certainly worth it for the experience I had this last week in Jackson," she said.
To hear her tell it, the act of leaving her beloved home and animals is testimony to the regard in which she holds the literary giant Welty--who is not exactly a household word. Although critically acclaimed for their respective bodies of work, Mississippi daughters Herring, Campbell and Holley are not exactly household words either, but one might argue that they, along with Welty, should be. Mary Chapin Carpenter certainly thinks so. She was more than excited to meet the other performers. She was "anticipating" doing so.
They are all so amazing. I have loved their music before I met them, I have felt a kinship with their music, and I have known Kate's music for years. To finally meet after so long, well it was just wonderful. I was trying to tell a friend of mine about how extraordinary it was to be there with them. Every single one of them. Claire has such an angelic and interesting way of writing, and Kate's writing is so masterful, and Caroline's is so literary. It was like my cup positively overflowed. Their material was extraordinary.
Something beautifully compelling happened onstage at the Belhaven College Center for the Arts. Carpenter provided the star power for the benefit performance, but more than that, she quietly and graciously deferred to the other women, learning their material, requesting their songs, and harmonizing in lovely support of the Welty tribute.
This is the definition of grace. Campbell, Herring and Holley remarked in subsequent conversations that Carpenter went out of her way to make each of them feel comfortable. The admiration was returned onstage when Carpenter said that she had not known what exactly to expect but that she felt she had "made three new friends."
Image: (l-r) Claire Holley, Caroline Herring, Kate Campbell, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Jennings
Had she lived to reach her one-hundredth birthday, Eudora Welty would have certainly enjoyed this gathering of new friends on a sweet-scented southern spring evening. There was a hint of ozone in the air, a harbinger of thunderstorms that would roll through Jackson later in the evening. Welty often wrote about the weather and its ability to set mood and tone. In one of her best loved books, One Writer's Beginnings, Welty described her father's "country boy's accurate knowledge of the weather and its skies." Her art was firmly rooted in family and her fascination with the grownup world of storytelling that was part and parcel of southern family living.
So I developed a strong meteorological sensibility. In years ahead when I wrote stories, atmosphere took its influential role from the start. Commotion in the weather and the inner feelings aroused by such a hovering disturbance emerged connected in dramatic form.
No shy and retiring southern belle, Welty said she tried a tornado first.
Some said they felt Welty's presence at Belhaven last week, and it is not out of the realm of possibility.
The 800-seat Belhaven Theater is a former Methodist Church, and there is something about a church that invites a visitation from the muse or a ghost. The stage was bathed in the glow of blue Fresnels that enhanced the sense of mystery and romance. Throw in the incredible artistry of four women who have the dirt, sweetness, and sweat of the south in their bones, along with songwriting abilities that summon aching memories of the pain, triumph and anguish of the South, and the profound becomes tangible--the impossible, possible.
Image: Audience at "Singing the Centennial"
In many ways, the Eudora Welty Centennial event was a perfect marriage of the arts of songwriting and Welty's literary storytelling.
Although Welty received the National Medal of Literature, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, and was the first living author to have her stories and essays compiled by the Library of America, these accolades did not define her existence. Welty looked to friendship and curiosity about the particulars of life. " In writing, as in life," she wrote, "the connections of all sorts of relationships and kinds lie in wait of discovery, and give out their signals to the Geiger counter of the charged imagination...."
Mary Chapin Carpenter is a northerner and New Jersey born, but became fascinated with southerner Eudora Wetly and the power of her imagination when she stumbled upon One Writer's Beginnings through a comment from a friend.
The book is a bible, a talisman of sorts. It has meant so much to me. I was living in a scummy little apartment trying to be scrappy and eke out a living, when a very dear friend of mine quoted the very last line of the book. Our conversation was about struggle, and after I heard the quote I ran out and got it. I basically devoured it and found myself returning to it over and over again through the years. To this day I recommend it to any person I meet who is trying to establish a creative life within the requirements of making a living. It reaffirms what I am trying to accomplish for myself. Sometimes you are not sure of what you are trying to do; you are just trying to be happy.
Before our conversation thread ended, I looked up the last line in One Writer's Beginnings and read it to Mary Chapin over the phone.
"As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within, Welty wrote."
When asked why she opened the "guitar pull" in the round with the iconic Stones in the Road, Mary Chapin had the somewhat surprising answer that the song is an old friend and that the Welty tribute was her return to performing after two years.
This was my first show in two years and I had taken extensive time off because I had a pulmonary embolism. We were all talking about how nervous we were and it was especially true for me because this was my return to performing. 'Stones' is about a lot of things, about struggle, certainly, and it is my calling card as well.
The experience of having the embolism was terrifying. I had been having a lot of pain in my chest and luckily I got to the emergency room in time. It has taken me a long time to get back to my job. That is another thing that made it so meaningful to me--the fact that I was with such kind and considerate and lovely people in Jackson.
The Welty connection "of all sorts of relationships" was made.
The audience reacted as if it were greeting an old friend as Mary Chapin sang the opening lines of Halley Came to Jackson in a voice ringing strong and true with heart-felt emotion. The song and companion children's book, illustrated by Dan Andreasen, is based upon Welty's description of her father holding her in his arms as Halley's comet appeared over the skies of Jackson in 1910.
Another connection--a connection to the past--made through a combination of great songwriting and powerful vocal harmonies, just about brought down the house when Kate Campbell walked over to the grand piano to play Look Away. Mary Chapin said that she and Campbell locked eyes as the song began. It is one of Carpenter's favorites. Campbell is a respected presence on the folk music circuit as well as National Public Radio, and her work has been compared to that of Welty and William Faulkner. Campbell introduced the song from her album Rosaryville with a vivid personal memory.
Image: Kate Campbell
I remember seeing Eudora on public television one night and there was a photograph of the mansion in Windsor, Mississippi behind her. I remember her talking about the New South and the Old South and along the way she said, 'You know, not everything was bad and it doesn't really matter where you are from, there is good and there is bad.' She was talking about the Old South and she said 'it really wasn't all about hate.' I, too, cannot believe that the history of the south is all about hate.
You could hear weeping in the audience as the four part harmony on Campbell's song took hold:
It's along and slow surrender retreating from the past. It's important to remember to fly the flag half-mast, and look away. I was taught by elders wiser, love your neighbor, love your god. Never saw a cross on fire, never saw an angry mob. I saw sweet magnolia blossoms. I chased lightning bugs at night. Never dreaming others saw our way of life in black and white. Part of me hears voices crying, part of me can feel their weight. Part of me believes that mansion stood for something more than hate.
The moment was positively transcendent, and the audience became one family in the telling, all sons and daughters of the south.
Carpenter, Holley, Herring and Campbell bravely shouldered this heavy sentiment in their songwriting and storytelling about the southland--each using compassion as a moral compass--each using the inspiration of Eudora Welty as a guidepost.
Image: Caroline Herring
A beloved Canton native, Caroline Herring is quite simply a treasure waiting to be discovered by mainstream America. Ten years ago, Herring established a strong following in the Austin music scene. Herring, like Campbell, does not shy away from the responsibility to tell the story of the south and shine the light of truth into the darker corners of southern history.
With wit and grace that elicited laughter and warm applause from the audience, Herring also paid tribute to Welty.
I do feel that Eudora Welty, like God, is looking down on me and saying, 'Why have you not read everything that I have written?' One thing I am struck with is the fact that she gives her characters such dignity through her honest portrayals of southern life in the twentieth century. Well, we are blessed to have had her in our midst.
Image: Claire Holley
Claire Holley is a Jackson native, but now resides in Los Angeles where her music is often featured in television. Holley and Campbell conducted a songwriting workshop the morning after the concert. Holley's advice? Read Welty's One Writer's Beginnings. "A lot of your best songs feel like gifts."
Music, friendship, and inspiration were front and center during the Welty Centennial Concert.
"The chemistry was really there," Kate Campbell said after the performance.
The audience was with us and everyone was there to honor Eudora. This was one of the best ways to give tribute to Eudora-- to have women singer/songwriters share their music and inspiration. Through music and storytelling, we can have a conversation, a dialogue. As performers it inspired us to be up there with three other women who shared the same passion.
I asked her what she hoped to read in this article. She laughed.
No journalist has ever asked me that question. When I got home from the weekend and we were all home again and when I parted from my manager and guitar technician and guitarist we remarked that it would be so hard to explain unless you had been there. It was an amazing experience. Describe how MAGICAL it was. I am so happy a (Huffington Post) writer has taken the time and interest in this.
We ended the interview talking about Mary Chapin's one and only meeting with Eudora Welty, some 20 years ago.
I had tea with Eudora 20 years ago in her home. I was so nervous I could hardly talk. The way the house is now, it is like she just stepped out for a while. Books on couches; books everywhere. Her reading glasses on the table. I remember she gave me a book about Cajun music. I found that really interesting and surprising. It was one of the most memorable events of my life. She was just so gracious and kind.
Welty passed in 2001 at 92, accomplished and beloved throughout the world.
Perhaps for Mary Chapin, her daring came in her ability to triumphantly take the stage again after a very serious health threat. Eudora Welty found strength, solace and comfort in the company of friends, and so did Mary Chapin Carpenter.
Four strong, talented women gathered in tribute to a woman who was a powerhouse of literary ability. In the gathering, they found friendship and reaffirmed their own abilities to use inspiration as the wellspring of creativity, courage, and terrific songwriting.
Mary Chapin Carpenter's 2007 CD, The Calling, was nominated for a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album. Her latest recording, released in 2008, is Come Darkness, Come Light: Twelve Songs of Christmas. Mary Chapin Carpenter serves on the Eudora Welty Foundation board. She is the only artist to have won four consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. (1992-1995) She is currently working on writing and recording anew album and will be touring in support of it next year. Mary Chapin has recorded 11 albums, sold more than 13 million records, and scored 12 top 10 singles.
The Eudora Welty Foundation aids in the cataloging of her manuscripts, correspondence, and photographs. The National Foundation for the Arts announced that the foundation has been awarded a $10,000 NEA grant that will support creative writing in 500 high schools.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Obama needs to hear from us that we want habeus corpus restored and justice restored in America. This is NOT moving in the right direction.
Please President Obama...live up to your promise!!
H/T to the incredible Rachel Maddow!
Monday, April 13, 2009
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Fact-Finding Mission "Shocked"
THE HAGUE, Apr 10 (IPS) - A delegation of seven British Labour members of parliament and 10 trade union leaders from the U.S., Canada and Britain said they were in a "state of shock" over what they heard during a week-long fact-finding mission to Colombia.
In a strongly worded statement read out in Spanish at a press conference Wednesday in the Colombian Congress, the parliamentary and labour mission accused the government of right-wing President Álvaro Uribe of being an "accomplice of crimes against humanity."
Crimes against humanity are defined by Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in this city in the Netherlands, as "any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation….; imprisonment…; torture; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation…; persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender (grounds)...; (or) enforced disappearance of persons".
The Rome Statute went into effect in Colombia in November 2002 for crimes against humanity, as well as genocide, which is defined in Article 6. But this country availed itself of Article 124, which allows a signatory state to refuse to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC with respect to war crimes "'alleged to have been committed by its nationals or in its territory" for seven years – a period that ends in November this year.
For now, the ICC prosecutors are keeping Colombia under observation.
"We have no doubts, given the evidence received, that the Colombian government of Álvaro Uribe and the security forces are accomplices in human rights abuses," says the communiqué read out by British Labour MP Sandra Osborne, a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
"We are also convinced that the murderous activities of the paramilitaries are approved of and actively supported by the government and the army," the statement says, referring to the far-right militias commanded by drug lords, which partially demobilised after negotiations with the Uribe administration.
These crimes are aggravated by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, and the judicial system’s failure to prosecute the criminals and those who gave the orders, it adds.
Colombia has been in the grip of a civil war since 1964, when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas rose up in arms.
The paramilitary groups, in their present form, emerged in the 1980s to combat the leftist insurgents alongside the government forces.
An October 2008 report by the London-based rights watchdog Amnesty International states that 1,300 civilians were killed outside of combat in 2006 and 1,400 in 2007, while some 270,000 people fled their homes in the first half of 2008 - a 41 percent increase in forced displacement with respect to the previous year.
According to the European Union, only eight out of 100 homicides lead to a conviction in Colombia, and at least 1,200 civilians have been killed since mid-2002 and passed off by the Colombian military as guerrillas or paramilitaries killed in action.
In its seven-day visit to Colombia, the mission gathered information on human rights abuses and violations of labour rights, and met with a wide range of actors from Colombian society, covering civic, political, judicial and military interests and including trade unionists, students, teachers, indigenous people, peasant farmers, trade union lawyers, human rights defenders and released FARC hostages, said the statement read by Osborne.
Since 2008, the FARC has released eight politicians it had taken hostage with the hopes of negotiating with the government a swap of hostages for imprisoned rebels.
Three other political hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, escaped or were rescued, along with a number of soldiers and police being held by the guerrillas.
The parliamentary and labour delegation travelled to the eastern oil-producing department (province) of Arauca, on the border with Venezuela, where they heard the personal accounts of local people affected by the war, and visited the women’s prison and imprisoned local human rights activist Martín Sandoval.
They also met with Uribe and high-level officials, but their reaction was not published locally.
Instead of imprisoning the real criminals, the government has imprisoned trade unionists, members of the political opposition, and human rights defenders like Sandoval, says the statement, which calls for his "immediate release, and the immediate release of other political prisoners and trade unionists."
The members of the mission announced that when they return to their countries, "we will be calling for an immediate end to all military and political support for the Colombian government."
They also urged that no free trade agreement with Colombia be approved until human and labour rights are respected in an internationally verifiable manner.
The free trade deal negotiated with the United States has been held up by Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. Congress over similar concerns about violence against trade unionists in Colombia.
But in Canada, the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper tabled the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement on Mar. 26, which means parliament had 21 days from that date to debate its ratification.
And the second round of talks between three Andean countries – Colombia, Peru and Ecuador – and the European Union on a free trade deal took place in mid-March in Lima, Peru.
The fact-finding mission warned that it would publicly expose the complicity of multinational corporations in violations of human and labour rights in Colombia.
The members of the mission said they would work to put an end to the criminalisation of legitimate, democratic opposition, support eventual peace talks and a hostage-prisoner swap between the FARC and the government, and work to bring to a halt the extrajudicial executions of civilians passed off as battlefield casualties by the Colombian army.
The delegation included Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle, a former British defence minister who resigned in 2000, unhappy with some of then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s policies.
The mission was organised by Justice for Colombia, a British NGO created in 2002 – a year when 184 trade unionists were killed in this country, considered the most dangerous place in the world to be a labour activist.
Justice for Colombia is a coalition of 40 British trade unions, along with trade councils, NGOs, academics and MPs, "who support the Colombian people and trade union movement in their struggle for peace with social justice."
In September 2007, Justice for Colombia drew the ire of Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos when it urged Britain’s recently inaugurated Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his foreign secretary to halt military aid to Bogotá.
British military aid to Colombia is second only to U.S. aid, of which Colombia is the third biggest recipient, after Israel and Egypt.
The 2007 "End British Military Aid to Colombia Petition" was signed by all of the then members of the Labour Party National Executive Committee who did not form part of the government, all of the Labour MPs in the European Parliament, dozens of British Labour MPs, and all of the trade unions affiliated with the Labour Party.
"Colombians tend to believe this kind of declaration is extremely important, and that something will start to happen now," like a change in policies of military aid to the government, human rights activist Lilia Solano told IPS by telephone from Bogotá.
"But we have to wait and see what results will be achieved; we aren’t sure it will be that effective," she added. (END/2009)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Rick Warren no longer supports the notorious Proposition 8 repealing the rights of marriage for lesbians and gays.
Miracles never cease. Thank you Jesus!
The FARC Revolutionist by Renate G. Vanegas
Xlibris, paperback: $19.95, hardback: $24.95 (264p)
ISBN13 (TP) 978-1-4415-0316-9
ISBN13 (HB) 978-1-4415-0317-6
(also at Barnes and Noble or at Amazon)
Both of Renate Vanegas's published books have dealt with fascism and war. The first, Hitler's Prisoners: Seven Cell Mates Tell Their Stories, which she co-authored with her late father, Erich Friedrich, who was one of the actual prisoners in the book, peels open the grim reality of repression and tyranny that German citizens themselves experienced during the Third Reich.
Her new book, The FARC Revolutionist, focuses on stark realities in Colombia, which, while on the surface a democracy, also has a long-standing Right-wing/fascist oligarchy pulling strings behind the scenes when not actively intervening in a more brutal, overt manner. This has, unfortunately, been the traditional way of political life throughout South America for many decades until more recently, when populist movements began to sweep away the deep inroads of oligarchy in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia especially. Colombia, however, remains mired in economic and social inequality, drug lords, poverty, crime, murderous Right-wing militias and an elitist-dominated two-party system, although the Liberal Party has championed such causes as the abolition of slavery and land reform in the past, while the Conservative Party, strongly allied with the Catholic Church, has always attempted to hold onto as much land, privilege and profit as possible, while promoting the unity of church and state.
Brief History of the FARC
(click on the photo to see the entire image) From TIME/CNN: Female Fighters It is estimated that women make up 30% of FARC's force. Photographer: Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (source)
Because legitimate political expression and the redress of grievances have been so repressed for the lower strata of Colombian society for decades, it was inevitable that more violent ideologies and movements would come to the forefront. Here is a decent account of this evolution posted on the website Third World Traveler entitled, "Colombia: Origins of the FARC" by Jan Bauman, MITF Report, April 4, 2001:
The 20th century began in violence as landless peasants, joined by their reformist allies, battled the landowning oligarchies who were backed by the conservative hierarchy of the Catholic Church. These early struggles form the backdrop to today's civil war in Colombia. The peasant struggles bore fruit when from 1930 to 1946 a series of Liberal Party administrations initiated land reform that triggered furious political opposition from the Conservatives. When the internally divided Liberal Party was defeated in 1946, the new Conservative government resorted to political violence to regain the lands of the oligarchy. In 1948 a charismatic progressive Liberal and land reform leader, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, was gunned down in Bogota. His assassination set off a popular insurrection in the capital and in almost every city where the Liberals were strong. In response brutal gangs funded by leaders among the elitist wing of the Liberals and Conservatives roamed the countryside committing atrocities against civilians. During the decade La Violencia claimed the lives of between 200,000 to 300,000 Colombians.As was quite natural at this point in time, given the model and success of the fresh Cuban Revolution in overthrowing its own oligarchy, the FARC embraced the Colombian version of Marxist-Leninism, its principle intellectual leadership coming from the Colombian Communist Party, led by Manuel Marulanda, nicknamed Tirofijo or "Sureshot". He only just died of a heart attack in 2008 according to the FARC, still in charge to the end.
La Violencia came to an official end in 1958 with a National Front that allowed the Liberal and Conservative elites to share public office and alternate the presidency. Nothing in the agreement addressed the plight of Colombia's landless peasantry. In 1964, the army unleashed a major land and air attack against Marquetalia, a rural resistance community that had been established as an independent republic during the violent decade. Under attack, 48 guerrillas fled to the mountains in the southwest state of Cauca where, later that year, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) was founded. In the same period other guerrilla groups, the ELN (National Liberation Army) and the EPL (People's Liberation Army) were established. (source)
As social and economic realties continued to remain polarized in Colombia, the FARC gradually grew into a formidable guerrilla movement of perhaps as many as 18,000 fighters by the end of the 20th Century, while controlling as much as 20% of the country, The FARC was initially quite popular to a wide cross-section of Colombians because their manifesto demanded equal opportunities for all and a more equitable redistribution of land. But over time the FARC lost popularity within some sectors of Colombian society, which critics attribute to two key policy decisions: 1) to raise funds from coca production in Colombia and 2) to raise funds through kidnappings, particularly of wealthy ranchers. Jan Bauman also discusses the origins of both with the FARC in her article:
(click on the photo to see the entire image) From TIME/CNN: Guerilla Portraits Matumba (left) and Patricia - Photographer: Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (source)
Forced off their lands, many of the campesinos fled to some of the mountainous areas where the FARC had their strongholds and began to cultivate coca, a plant that needs no pesticides or fertilizers. At first the FARC resisted the cultivation of coca but the leadership realized that banning of the crop would alienate peasant support. Thus began the gramaje, a coca-trade tax, a tax levied by the FARC on coca growers and drug-traffickers. The US government has often alleged that the FARC are narco-trafficker but in a recent meeting Colombian President Andres Pastrana and Mexican President Vicente Fox agreed that, for the moment, no proof or evidence exists that the FARC is a drug cartel (April 6, 2001 meeting in Barrancabermeja, Colombia - Mac).In a communiqué to me, Renate Vanegas also described the sad history of the FARC's attempt at peaceful political representation in Colombia through the Union Patriotica, as well as commenting on the FARC's venture into drugs and kidnapping. Note that her numbers for the UP membership are different from Jan's above and are considered the most reliable figure:
Through the mid-1980s the FARC was active in staging raids against government forces while also kidnapping wealthy Colombians and holding them for ransom. In 1984 the FARC declared a truce with the government and attempted to enter the political arena through the establishment of a legal party, the Union Patriotica (UP).
The cease-fire with the government was short lived. In early 1987, after having an estimated 3,500 (not confirmed-Mac) of the UP members killed or disappeared by the government or paramilitary forces, the FARC once again took up arms. According to Rafael Pardo, president of the Bogota based Milenio Foundation and former civilian minister of defense, the UP killings "not only increased rebel suspicions but lowered the prospects for the eventual creation of a democratic leftist political party." (ibid.)
As you know, the FARC came into existence by an indigenous movement started by the Colombian Liberal party fighting the ruling Conservative party government, which at the time was persecuting the Liberal party. The civil war started right after the 1948 assassination of Liberal party leader Jorge Gaitan. Several years later, the FARC made peace with the government and for some time it participated in the political arena of Colombia, but unfortunately all the members of the political arm known as the Union Patriotica were assassinated by Right-wing groups. I heard this in detail during the three trials of FARC guerilla commander Simon Trinidad that I attended, where Trinidad testified on his own behalf. Out of the 1500 UP members only three survived, one being Simon, another Imelda Daza, a woman professor who escaped with her family to Sweden and another member also living in exile in Europe. The prosecution and judge would not let the woman professor testify for the defense.Despite the betrayal the FARC has experienced in the past at the hands of the Colombian government and the oligarchy with its death squads, they have still been willing to negotiate over the years. Intransigence, however, continues to come from the Colombian Establishment, the FARC complains (although the government in turn argues that it is the FARC who is intransigent). Note this May 2000 communiqué from their mountain headquarters by the FARC Central General Staff:
Nevertheless, the FARC continued their armed struggle; however, in my opinion, two major tactical actions by the FARC changed its character. The FARC resorted to kidnapping and collecting protection payments from ranchers and businesses throughout the country. The other mistake they made was getting involved in drug trafficking to finance their activities, although not to the extent as other groups had, such as the paramilitaries who worked for the traffickers and rich land owners in conjunction with Colombian authorities and other plain criminals. Apparently there is also a great division of opinion among the FARC about kidnappings and drug trafficking.
[the war] is an option that has been imposed upon the Colombian people by the ruling class which follows the orientation of the government of the United States of America. We do not wage war for its own sake. Everything has been put in the service of a political solution that would open the course toward reconciliation and reconstruction and establish the basis of the New Colombia. But invariably we have come up against the stubbornness and intransigence of a ruling class that only thinks of making use of these spaces to get us to submit. (source)FARC's Waning Fortunes
With the swearing in of George Bush as President of the United States in 2001 and the 9/11 debacle that same year, the Right-wing in Colombia experienced a new surge of support for more extremist measures in dealing with the FARC. Capitalizing on the paranoia and vindictiveness being promulgated with George Bush's ultra-violent "War on Terror" the oligarchy successfully promoted the election of hardliner Álvaro Uribe to the presidency. Uribe was keen to begin, with the full backing of the White House of course, the demonization of the FARC as evil "terrorists," now suddenly more subhuman than ever, and worthy only of annihilation at his hands. To the CIA and the Pentagon, always eager to support oligarchy anywhere it seems, the FARC must have now seemed like the ultimate evil fantasy characters, "Comunistas Terroristas". Never mind that the FARC itself was created as a reaction against brutal state terrorism against the Columbian masses; any hot-button propaganda sound bite will do for the Right-wing to rationalize slaughtering one's enemies. The problem is that this just compounds the original injustices, setting the stage for more conflict in the future even if one is successful in the short run in annihilating the opposition. There can never be real peace without justice.
The FARC, realizing the wave of intensified violence, aided by American technology, intelligence and weaponry, being launched against them by Uribe, made what appeared to be a strategic withdrawal from several departments after suffering military setbacks and the capture or desertion of a number of fighters. Their numbers have been reduced possibly by as much as half, leaving them with, perhaps, some eight or nine thousand guerrillas at present. It is very hard to get a real grip on correct figures. The FARC has also suffered media embarrassments and psychological defeats from the escape or liberation of hostages, as well as assassinations of some of its leadership. Is this bad Karma from the kidnappings catching up with them?
FARC commander Raul Reyes speaking to his guerrilla fighters.
Photo: Garry Leech (source)
However, Uribe has had his own setbacks. His successful, yet controversially ordered raid into neighboring Ecuador to murder key FARC leader/negotiator Raúl Reyes in his sleep and almost everyone else in the camp, including four Mexicans, sparked a regional crisis that could have easily escalated into war with Ecuador and or Venezuela. At the same time Uribe and his administration have been damaged by the "Parapolitics Scandal," centering around revelations of strong links between government officials and politicians on the one hand and Right-wing militias like the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) on the other.
AUC members - Right-wing paramilitaries are responsible for more than 70 percent of the human rights abuses in Colombia.
Photo: Garry Leech (source)
Meanwhile the FARC, displaying a measure of self-confidence, has just recently called for a prisoner exchange, as reported by the news agency, China View: BOGOTA, March 29 (Xinhua)
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said it is ready to make a swap of hostages for rebel prisoners, the organization Colombians for Peace said Sunday.Definitely the FARC has suffered many setbacks since Uribe came to power. But who is going to outlast who? Has the FARC reached its nadir and begun to reconsolidate, or will they continue to decline. But even if the FARC were to eventually fall apart, so long as the political and socio-economic life of Colombia is marred by repression, oppression, the exploitation of workers and glaring extremes of poverty and riches, there is going to be motivation for other guerrilla movements like the FARC to rise up.
"We are ready for exchanging war prisoners and not making the dialogue an unsurpassable obstacle," FARC said in a letter sent to Colombians for Peace.
Colombians for Peace is a group led by opposition senator Piedad Cordoba, who helped broker the release of politicians Alan Jara and Sigifredo Lopez in February.
"We are analyzing the proposals from senator Piedad Cordoba leaded to energize the path to the peace with social justice," the FARC said. (for the full article click here)
Segueing into The FARC Revolutionist
Renate's book itself plunges into all these controversies as they were evolving back in 1981 and onwards. This is largely a fictional account, but not completely so, because the experiences of one of the main characters in the book, Alberto, a well-to-do, elderly rancher kidnapped in the book, actually really happened. In fact, Alberto is really the author's uncle on her husband's side, and he indeed was taken hostage and trekked off into the jungle by the FARC. The recounting of his story actually inspired Renate to write this book. Needless to say, there is no shortage of realism in this novel!
There are three major characters in The FARC Revolutionist. Besides Alberto, we have the main protagonist Carlos Zipante, a FARC comandante, handsome and charismatic, well-educated as a lawyer despite his peasant upbringing, whose passion for social justice brought him into the FARC. And then there is beauteous Anne Henderson, a Washington D.C. lawyer herself, the daughter of Robert Henderson, a senior partner in an international insurance conglomerate, whose wife Ruth is a refined woman of enduring Virginian lineage dating back to plantation days.
Over the course of the novel there is a slow, inevitable dance between Carlos and Anne into each others arms that brings great passion and sensuality to the novel, along with the equally great passion of revolutionary struggle, for at core, this novel is about the evolution of Carlos from a young child in a Colombian mountain village who experiences a traumatic injustice by the Colombian Army, through his struggles to become a brilliant college student and then law student, all the while becoming more incensed against the political injustices crying out for redress in Columbia, to the point where he finally joins the FARC, gradually rising in the ranks to become a senior commander.
The novel sweeps through the hemisphere, beginning with a Colombian freighter laden with both contraband and Carlos steaming in high seas toward Cuba, where Carlos will hopefully rendezvous with contacts who will commandeer him on into Miami to begin secretive and illusive efforts through an American-based drug lord to negotiate the purchase of a large cache of weapons and ammunition. As the plot twists and turns, Carlos eventually finds himself hiding out in northern Virginia and Washington DC, slam-dunk in the middle of "Narcos" with all their vanities, fears and ruthlessness, before fiery circumstances once again whisk him away back into the jungles of Colombia, where we are suddenly trekking through the hot and humid tropics, sweating in our imaginations alongside Carlos and his guerrilla unit, swollen with green recruits, as they go on forced march after forced march to evade the Colombian Army and its spotter planes, before reaching a base camp or setting up a temporary new camp.
I might add that the author has tremendous descriptive powers that are put to great use in recreating, down to smallest details, the jungles, villages and savannas of Columbia. Renate Vanegas is a multi-talented writer with strong research credentials that only enhance the believability of the novel.
Moreover, the very factors that have created the greatest controversy about the FARC, their involvement with the drug trade and their kidnapping of rich landowners, are tackled head-on in this novel, and are indeed central sub-plots in the book. Indeed we find Carlos wrestling with the ethics of these controversies throughout the piece.
The breadth and intensity of The FARC Revolutionist makes it perhaps one of the best-written novels of the Latin American revolutionary anti-hero genre since Harold Robbins' best seller, The Adventurers, written way back in 1966, introduced us to the memorable Dax, another child grown to manhood and destiny amidst revolutionary struggle. Now we have the memorable Carlos. But at the same time this novel is much different, a more serious literary work than Robbins' jet-set sensationalism, more committed to revealing the humanity and complexity within each character in the novel.
This is an historical political novel, a romantic novel and an adventure novel all rolled into one, a serious work that also helps us delve into the human side of one of the oldest revolutionary movements, with all its contradictions, in South America, the FARC, and a good antidote to all the dangerous demonization going on against them. Highly recommended.
NATO and America have been tearing Afghanistan apart for eight years, for Afghans' own good of course, they say, but when refugees show up at Europe's doorsteps, Europe treats them like dirt. This at least reflects the phony humanitarianism of the NATO mission.
Sidebar for video:
More than 2,000 Afghan refugees live in a temporary camp in the Greek port of Patras in huts cobbled together from wood,plastic sheeting and old pallets. The refugees are hoping for a chance to move north,to central Europe,because ferries leave Patras for Italy.With only four temporary toilets and sporadic water and electric supplies,conditions in the now 12 year-old camp are appalling. Yet new refugees arrive daily. They sleep in the open,on the beach,in parks or hidden in the city. Greece says the refugees are a problem for all of Europe,but that other European countries are ignoring it. Global 3000 visited the refugee camp.
National demonstrations are scheduled in more than fifty cities around the country Saturday to protest the governments handling of the economic crisis. In Phoenix, a demonstration is being held outside the headquarters of AIG. In Chicago, protesters will march in front of Bank of America. In Atlanta, people are demonstrating outside the Federal Reserve Bank. In New York, a rally is being held at Union Square. And many more actions are taking place across the country.
FIND PROTEST IN YOUR AREA, post your events: http://votestrike.ning.com
http://votestrike.webs.com London Demonstration to Protest the Police Attack on Ian Tomlinson Reclaim the City Demo. Sat 11 April: Assemble 11.30 at Bethnal Green Police Station In memory of Ian Tomlinson. Please wear black and bring flowers to lay where he died. The Guardian has published a video of the police pushing Ian Tomlinson who later died last Wednesday during the G20 protest. He was not a protester--he was trying to get home from work through the streets full of riot police and police dogs. FOR FUTURE PROTEST IN YOUR AREA GO TO: http://votestrike.ning.com
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Gannett Co, Tribune Co, the McClatchy Co and Microsoft Corp, the owners of CareerBuilder.com responded with this statement, "This is encouraging news for the job seekers out there," Grasz said. "There is a popular misconception that if you lose your job today you won't be able to find another opportunity.
So, according to the above mentioned corporations, people who were earning far less than they should've been and who have now been laid off, should be encouraged that there are jobs out there where they are going to be earning even less than before, and having to tap into what little savings they have to help with expenses they were barely able to meet with the previous job.
How in God's name are they able to get articles such as these published as "news?"
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
We didn't fly into Spring thunderstorms in Atlanta last week solely for the flowering landscape, but it was stunning nonetheless. Iris, swelling alder, cherries, tulip poplars, Bradford Pears and sweetgum competed with red oaks in full bud to delight the eyes as we wound our way through the narrow streets of a darling little town called Decatur in search of the legendary Eddie's Attic and rising folk music star, Ellis. Founded in the early nineties by current talent buyer, Eddie Owen, the club is known as a premier venue for well-known singer/songwriters as well as local Georgia talent. John Mayer, Shawn Mullins and Sugarland got started there.
One of my colleagues over here at MOSQUITO beat me to the punch on a review of Ellis's CD, Break the Spell so I will try to one-up his accolades by describing a live performance that left everyone, well, HAPPY.
Image Copyright © Ramcey Rodriguez, Nashville
We first caught Ellis at a showcase at the 2009 Memphis Folk Alliance, and our surprise and delight was enough to encourage an excuse to visit with music friends in Atlanta when we learned she was playing Decatur. This 32 year old woman is a very old soul. You get the feeling you need to listen very carefully, and the end result is wanting more. We certainly left Folk Alliance wanting more. Sometimes described as a cross "between Texas charm and Minnesota nice," Ellis lives up to the compliment and now makes Minneapolis her home. She is on a very heavy, extensive touring schedule, but she's not a complainer and seems grateful for the opportunity to meet her fans and just play her music. You won't hear any of the "woe is me" lament in her songs that seems to be de rigueur with so many of the singer/songwriter "stars" these days.
We boomer survivors realize something went horribly wrong with music and optimism in the sixties. Ellis brings it all back with a meditative twist of true loving kindness.
Ellis reads Buddhist monk Pema Chodron, can quote her, and there is a definite Zen-like theme to her music. Writing with compassion about love and loss, her lyrics suggest the moment is all we really have. The future is potent with possibility, but embrace where you are now. Ellis's stage presence is beyond compare, and one of the people at our table remarked that you could probably "turn off the stage lighting and still see her." Ellis positively glows in performance and "gives everything" in the words of another notable singer/songwriter who was sitting with us.
One of Ellis's fans on her MYSPACE page suggests that she would be the best possible representative of the human race if we were forced to send an emissary to an alien civilization. I thought about that for a minute and realized the guy had a point. It really wasn't an over-the-top idea.
OK. So what about the music? No sense reinventing the wheel -- none other than Performing Songwriter Magazine said (and we agree), "Her music comforts like a caress. The style may have originated with others -- Janis Ian and the Indigo Girls come immediately to mind -- but now Ellis can confidently claim it as her own."
Image Courtesy of Ellis-music.com
On top of it all, Ellis is a consummate performer when it comes to that sometimes-awkward chatter that singer/songwriters throw in between songs. She would make a great stand-up comedienne, and proves it as she deftly weaves hysterical commentary into her introductions. At other times, the audience knows she is speaking from the heart as she introduces a more somber composition. When Ellis fixes her blue eyes on the crowd and says "I mean this with my whole heart," you believe her. That is an honest, true connection between audience and performer.
Nashville "sound guy," Ramcey Rodriguez shared this audience recording of Ellis singing "Red Light" from her CD, Break the Spell. It is a nice window into the "Ellis as performer" experience -- recorded the night we were in attendance.
Eddie's Attic and Ellis are made for each other.
Current owner, Bob Ephlin, stresses, "It is important to present the singer/songwriter in a listening environment," and this is a blessing for folks who are intent on listening to the music in an intimate environment. Talking is discouraged, with audience and performer appreciating the quiet.
Ephlin noted in a phone conversation a few days later that the focus is on the music and not the food and drink at Eddie's. "It is not in our best financial interest to present the music in a listening room format. People generally stop eating and drinking when they hear the quality of the performers here."
Ellis certainly lived up to the "quality" label.
The food at Eddie's Attic is simple and good. We tried the avocado/crab salad and chili before the show and were not disappointed. The wine selection was great, acoustics superb, and the club's system of reserved table seating fit perfectly with our desire to hook up with some old friends while we were in town. Tickets are offered on a will-call basis for out-of-towners, and you can request and obtain a table front and center if you reserve early enough.
Check out Eddie's Attic if you are in Atlanta. If you live anywhere on this planet, find Ellis's performance schedule and locations. Alien civilizations will have to wait. Earth is claiming her as its own.
Monday, April 06, 2009
This was another beautiful memorial remembrance this year of Dr King's death in Norfolk, with good weather, a good crowd, and good speakers and performers. Andrew Heidelberg, famous for being one of the Norfolk 17, the dauntless Black teenagers who weathered racial abuse to integrate the Norfolk School System starting in 1959, addresses the crowd.
From the PBS TV Station WHRO:
They were just teenagers who wanted a chance at a better education. But in 1959 Norfolk, that was a problem. African-American students werent allowed to go to historically white schools.
Until the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision opened the door for them by striking down the doctrine of separate but equal. But it still took years of legal wrangling before any of the Norfolk 17 set foot into an integrated classroom.
Then they were intimidated, threatened, cursed and subjected to all manner of racial animosity. But the persevered and ultimately graduated from high school, earning a place at the table of better education for the African-American students who came after.
This was another beautiful memorial remembrance this year of Dr King's death in Norfolk, with good weather, a good crowd, and good speakers and performers. Jagdish Singh, key Sikh and Indian Community Leader in Hampton Roads recites an English translation of a Sikh prayer for peace and understanding.
This was another beautiful memorial remembrance this year of Dr King's death in Norfolk, with good weather, a good crowd, and good speakers and performers. Drema Baker, local Wiccan High Priestess, leads the crowd in a beautiful peace visualization, despite a motorcycle near by for the first minute.
This was another beautiful memorial remembrance this year of Dr King's death in Norfolk, with good weather, a good crowd, and good speakers and performers. The Virginia Beach Filipino United Ilocano Youth Dance Group performs a traditional dance from the Philippines in honor of Dr King.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
This was another beautiful memorial remembrance this year of Dr King's death in Norfolk, with good weather, a good crowd, and good speakers and performers. Kim Williams of The Catholic Worker is reading a poignant and timely piece from Dr King's speeches and writings.
Friday, April 03, 2009
EATING -- 3rd Edition This is the new edition of the award-winning film by Mike Anderson that has been used in wellness clinics throughout the world to motivate people to change their diets and restore their health. The Rave Diet is a plant based diet that can dramatically reverse heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This third edition includes new interviews with experts and the personal testimonials of remarkable recoveries. (90 mins)
Topics included in this film: Why following federal nutritional guidelines can cause disease. Why the government promotes foods that shorten lives. Why almost everyone has cancer by the time they're fifty -- and don't know it. Why doctors treat symptoms of disease, not causes. Why our most deadly diseases were rare before 1900. Why most school-age children already have heart disease. Why there's no difference between white meat and dark meat. Why Americans are constipated, have weak bones, and are impotent. Why farm animal waste is standard fare in meat today. Why politicians are America's dieticians. Why our eating habits are as lethal as smoking cigarettes.
Speaker: Dr. Neal Barnard is a clinical researcher who practices in Washington, DC and is the author of "Dr. Barnard's Program of Reversing Diabetes". He is founder and president of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and president of The Cancer Project. http://www.nealbarnard.org/
Shows Friday, April 3 at 7:15pm at the Studio for the Healing Arts, 1611 Colley Ave (2nd floor) one block north of Naro Cinema. Admission is $5. Hosted by Tench Phillips, Naro Cinema, and facilitated by Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D.
Click here to visit the official website.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
George Galloway in Toronto by video on 30 March 2009 after the Canadian government denied him entry. The venue was the Metropolitan United Church. The title of his presentation was "Resisting Imperialism From Gaza To Kandahar".
George Galloway in Toronto by video on 30 March 2009 after the Canadian government denied him entry. The venue was the Metropolitan United Church. The title of his presentation was "Resisting Imperialism From Gaza To Kandahar".
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
George Galloway in Toronto by video on 30 March 2009 after the Canadian government denied him entry. The venue was the Metropolitan United Church. The title of his presentation was "Resisting Imperialism From Gaza To Kandahar".
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
By: Chuck Epes
See the original article at:
U.S. District Court Judge in D.C. Finds Permit "Arbitrary and Capricious"
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—In a huge win for the Chesapeake Bay and project opponents, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., has rejected a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the King William reservoir in King William County, Va.,
In his ruling yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. said the Army Corps "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" when it found that the reservoir was the least damaging practicable alternative. The judge also found arbitrary and capricious the Corps' conclusion that the permit will not cause or contribute to significant degradation of the waters of the United States and that the permit complies with the public interest.
The judge further ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously by considering factors outside of its statutory authority when it opted not to veto the Corps' permit.
The court ruling is a great victory for the plaintiffs in the case the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi, the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Mattaponi Tribe, all of whom challenged the Corps permit after it was issued to the City of Newport News in 2005.
"This project was ill-conceived and environmentally destructive when it was proposed 20 years ago, and the court is saying it still is," said Jon Mueller, litigation director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). "The immense damage that would be caused by this project was always out of proportion to the alleged need."
"This is a profound victory for the Chesapeake Bay, its natural resources, and the thousands of citizens and landowners who have fought this project for decades," said Roy Hoagland, CBF vice president for environmental protection and restoration.
If built, the reservoir would destroy more than 430 acres of pristine Chesapeake Bay wetlands, threaten American shad, and flood Native American archaeological sites.
Deborah Murray, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which represents the environmental plaintiffs in the case, said, "As the court noted, the reservoir project would represent the single largest authorized loss of wetlands in the Mid-Atlantic in the history of the Clean Water Act."
Newport News has sought to build the 1,500-acre reservoir in King William for at least two decades, and local residents, Native Americans, and conservationists have steadfastly opposed it every step of the way. CBF and its partners have long argued that there are other alternatives available, from conservation to smaller reservoirs; that Newport News has never legitimately established the need for the amount of water the huge reservoir would provide; and that the plan to mitigate the wetland destruction failed to compensate for the degraded and destroyed acres and functions of the wetlands.
The Army Corps of Engineers initially rejected Newport News' request to build the reservoir years ago after conducting a comprehensive study of the proposal and concluding that the reservoir was not in the public interest. However, then-Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore objected, bumping the decision to higher Army Corps officials, and with the recent Bush Administration's retreat on wetlands protection across the nation, the Corps reversed itself and issued Newport News the permit in 2005.
CBF and its partners, along with two committed Virginia legislators—Delegate Albert Pollard and Delegate Harvey Morgan have relentlessly argued the facts in opposition to this environmentally disastrous project. With the federal court's decision, science and the law prevailed, and politics failed.