Sunday, February 27, 2011

People Move When It's About Food

A few days ago there was a immigrant protest march at the University of Texas at Austin.  About three thousand people attended, mostly students.  They were protesting the draconian bills presently before the Texas Legislature.  One of these, horrific to say the least - sponsored by Rep. Debbie Riddle of Conroe, is for children who are undocumented to be reported to ICE by their school.  Is it appropriate to say this sounds like Nazi Germany?  Some people don't like using these types of analogies.  How can being deported to Mexico compare to the Holocaust?  

Perhaps many people don't know but those families who get sent back face terrible hardship.  A large percentage of the Mexican population does not have enough to eat.  Why else would they leave their homes under such conditions?    The narco war is also taking its toll.  People are being killed and kidnapped.  You can't travel on the highway between Monterrey and Laredo anymore, or between Mexico City and Monterrey - especially if you are driving a pick up truck.  Road blocks appear out of the blue and before you know it your car is gone... if you protest you can be shot.

Since there are about 12 million undocumented people in the U.S. you would think that they would protest and create a change.  Yet, this has not happened.  There have been protests, but not enough to pressure the government into change.  Perhaps it is that most of the people in the U.S. have enough to eat.  There isn't enough pressure to get millions of people out...  The 12 million have to be really hungry for things to get to that point.

London Independent

The price of food is at the heart of this wave of revolutions

No one saw the uprisings coming, but their deeper cause isn't hard to fathom
By Peter Popham
Sunday, 27 February 2011

Revolution is breaking out all over. As Gaddafi marshals his thugs and mercenaries for a last-ditch fight in Tripoli, several died as protests grew more serious in Iraq. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah tried to bribe his people into docility by splashing out $35bn on housing, social services and education. Across the water in Bahrain the release of political prisoners failed to staunch the uprising. In Iran, President Ahmadinejad crowed about chaos in the Arab world, but said nothing about the seething anger in his own backyard; in Yemen, the opposition gathers strength daily.

And it's not just the Middle East. This is an African crisis: Tunisia, where it started, is an African country, and last week in Senegal, a desperate army veteran died after setting fire to himself in front of the presidential palace, emulating Mohamed Bouazizi, the market trader whose self-immolation sparked the revolution in Tunisia. Meanwhile, the spirit of revolt has already leapt like a forest fire to half a dozen other ill-governed African nations, with serious disturbances reported in Mauritania, Gabon, Cameroon and Zimbabwe.

Nowhere is immune: dozens of activists in China are in detention or under other forms of surveillance, and the LinkedIn network was shut down as authorities seek to stamp out Middle East-style protests there. In what is arguably the most repressive state on the planet, North Korea, the army was called out and five died in the northern city of Sinuiju after violent protests erupted there and in two other cities. The generals who rule Burma under a trashy façade of constitutional government were keeping a close eye on the Middle East, ready to lock up Aung San Suu Kyi again at the first sign of copycat disturbances.
Nowhere is immune to this wave of rebellion because globalisation is a fact; all the world's markets are intricately interlinked, and woe in one place quickly translates into fury in another. Twenty years ago, things were more manageable. When grain production collapsed in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and what had been one of the world's greatest grain exporters became a net importer, the resulting surges of anger brought down the whole Communist system within a couple of years – but stopped there. Today there are no such firebreaks, and thanks to digital communications, events happen much faster.

Why are all these revolutions happening now? Plenty of answers have been offered: the emergence of huge urban populations with college degrees but no prospect of work; the accumulation of decades of resentment at rulers who are "authoritarian familial kleptocracies delivering little to their people", as Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation put it; the subversive role of Facebook and Twitter, fatally undermining the state's systems of thought control...more

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya - February 24 - Dying in Gaddafi's City

Robert Fisk with the first dispatch from Tripoli - a city in the shadow of death

Gunfire in the suburbs – and hunger and rumour in the capital as thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy
Thursday, 24 February 2011 - London Independent

Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli's international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi's rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi's fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi's capital if you are a "dog" of the international press.

There was little sign of opposition to the Great Leader. Squads of young men with Kalashnikov rifles stood on the side roads next to barricades of upturned chairs and wooden doors. But these were pro-Gaddafi vigilantes – a faint echo of the armed Egyptian "neighbourhood guard" I saw in Cairo a month ago – and had pinned photographs of their leader's infamous Green Book to their checkpoint signs...more  

Related articles

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Barrio Dogs Rescue

Barrio Dogs founder is a neighbor on a mission

By LANA BERKOWITZ Copyright 2011 Houston Chronicle

Feb. 23, 2011, 5:37PM

Eric Kayne
Gloria Medina Zenteno, with Apache, is the founder of Barrio Dogs of Houston, which promotes spay/neuter and pet care education.

After Gloria Medina Zenteno and her husband bought a house in the East End, where they grew up, she started noticing an abundance of neglected dogs around their new home.

"All the mangy dogs, pregnant moms, chained-up dogs. I have photos. I take photos on a daily basis. I've witnessed dogs running through the streets with chains on them. It's just not right," Zenteno said.
Zenteno, who did not own a dog when she moved back seven years ago, took action. She joined animal rescue groups to get the dogs veterinary care and new homes. She decided, however, that picking up strays didn't make a dent in the problem.

"I found out really quickly in rescue that it was just a never-ending thing. All the rescue groups are tapped out," Zenteno said. "There are just not enough homes for all the animals that we have.

"So I started thinking right away: How can we get to the root of the problem?"

Zenteno was dreaming big but starting small when she founded Barrio Dogs of Houston a year ago. The nonprofit organization sends volunteers to schools to talk about pet care and responsibility and assists low-income residents who want to improve their animals' quality of life, which can include providing free fences. Zenteno envisions a resource center to help people find low-cost spay and neuter programs and regular veterinarians.

"One of our really important programs is called the Barrio Watch Dog program where we try to really encourage the residents to report animal abuse and neglect — chained-up dogs, animals that are left in cages and pens," she said. "People in our area just think that's the norm. And they don't really take responsibility in reporting. I think it's vital that we get law enforcement involved, because if we don't, then people are going to continue to do this."
Precinct 6 Constable Victor Trevino, who says stray dogs are an ongoing problem, applauded Zenteno's effort. "She's stepping up to the plate, and I'm ready to support her and her organization and the philosophy behind it."
Trevino agrees that education is key to change. There are those who don't see a problem leaving a dog tied up in the middle of nowhere, he said.

"Sometimes I don't think the abuse is intentional," Trevino said. "You don't want to just keep a dog in your backyard. And don't give him attention, and you don't take him to the vet, and you don't take him for walks," Trevino said. That's abuse, he said, noting that many of his neighbors would disagree.

The constable said Barrio Dogs programs could help pet owners understand the commitment an animal requires. He foresees a partnership with Barrio Dogs in which deputies who are experts in animal cruelty laws participate in school programs.

In her community, Zenteno said, animal owners often don't consider dogs part of the family. A macho attitude keeps many from sterilizing their dogs. And although she sees little evidence because of its underground nature, Zenteno says organized dog fights take place.

Zenteno started her educate, empower and transform mission on her street and the surrounding blocks. When she spots a loose or chained dog, she looks for its owner to talk about the animal's needs. If the dog is unwanted, she takes it to a boarding facility to stay while it gets vet care and waits for a permanent home.

She does a lot of business with Gulfgate Animal Hospital and AC Grooming's boarding facility, because they are in the heart of the barrio, she said. She also collaborates with the Spay Neuter Assistance Program.

Zenteno emphasizes that she is not operating a rescue group, although there are 12 homeless dogs being boarded or in foster care with Barrio Dogs' assistance. Zenteno admits she has trouble saying no to an animal in need, but her full-time job as an IT professional at Spectra Energy also keeps her busy.

The nonprofit group plans a grand kickoff event 2-6 p.m. April 10 at Bohemeo's, 708 Telephone Road ( Her sister-in-law, Norma Zenteno, who has helped rally support from area musicians and artists, will perform.

When residents hear about Barrio Dogs' mission, most are supportive. Some generously offer donations.

"People are willing to give money if 'you do it.' I'm saying: 'Why don't we all try to do something?' " Zenteno said. "I'm dug in now. I care about the community, and I really want to see it change. I feel like this is my way to try and make a difference."

In Spanish: L.A. Agency helps kids get VISAS

Empapado y con frío hasta los huesos, con los zapatos rotos y el hambre retrasada, fue como las autoridades encontraron a Alex. Dijo que le dolían "las tripas" y por eso salió a buscar a un amigo. Perdida en las drogas, su madre, nunca notó la ausencia de su hijo.

Con diferente nombre, las historias de negligencia se repiten una y otra vez entre los 160 niños que actualmente son parte de la Unidad Especial de Inmigrantes (SIS), la única que rastrea a los menores indocumentados dispuestos en sistema de hogares de crianza, con el fin de abrirles una puerta a la residencia permanente...mas

Middle East: 2011

Anonymous and the global correction

A loosely organised group of hackers is targeting oppressive regimes and says this is just the beginning.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2011 16:59 GMT

The tendency to relate past events to what is possible in the present becomes more difficult as the scope of the geopolitical environment changes. It is a useful thing, then, to ask every once in a while if the environment has recently undergone any particular severe changes, thereby expanding our options for the future.

Terminology, let alone our means of exchanging information, has changed to such a degree that many essential discussions in today's "communications age" would be entirely incomprehensible to many two decades ago.

As the social, political and technological environment has developed, some have already begun to explore new options, seizing new chances for digital activism - and more will soon join in. It is time for the rest of the world to understand why...more

UT Austin Students Protest Texas Legislature's Draconian Bills on Immigration

By Tim Eaton
Updated: 8:11 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
Published: 8:07 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
People from all over the state converged on the Capitol on Tuesday to protest several immigration-related bills.
Organizers from the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance said that about 3,000 people of varying ages marched on the streets to the Capitol, and several hundred of them stuck around for a rally and to visit legislators.
Javier Parra said he was part of group of 400 people from McAllen who came to try to persuade members of the Legislature not to back some 60 immigration bills that he said are anti-immigrant, anti-family and anti-law enforcement.
Particularly, Parra said, he is opposed to a bill that would establish a law in Texas like the one in Arizona that allows police to detain or question anyone who they think is in the country illegally.
"We bring the message of our people to the legislators," said Parra, who came with the labor rights group LUPE, or La Unión del Pueblo Entero. "Texas needs to be a leader, not a follower."
Parra and other protesters said they also were outraged by pieces of legislation such as one that would require school officials to report undocumented students and one that would deny birth certificates to children born in Texas to undocumented parents...more

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bloomberg and Saks Advocating for Immigration Reform

NEW YORK — Saks Fifth Avenue and Oscar de la Renta are among the fashion industry players who are joining Mayor Michael Bloomberg's coalition for immigration reform and calling for an easier visa process for international workers....more

Editorial - New York Times

The Immigration Reform Team

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, making good on an inaugural pledge, has stepped up to help lead the national battle for immigration reform. On Thursday, he announced a partnership of mayors and business leaders to make the economic case for reform, including mayors of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Phoenix, and top executives of companies like Walt Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and the New York Mets...more  

Still Hoping for the DREAM

DREAM Advocate Turns failure into hope

Isabel Castillo

 HARRISONBURG, Va. — Isabel Castillo was counting on the Dream Act, and when the Dream Act was defeated in December, it upended her dreams.
Isabel Castillo, right, arrives at a speaking engagement at the University of Virginia’s School of Law, where she will share her story about life after the Dream Act ended.

“Of course, I cried,” she said.

The Dream Act would have given legal status and a chance for citizenship to people like Ms. Castillo — illegal immigrants who were brought to this country at a young age (Ms. Castillo was 6) and then went on to attend college (Ms. Castillo, now 26, graduated magna cum laude)...more         

Education is slashed while NASCAR Wins

In the U.S. Government's 2011 Battle of the Budget there has been once clear winner:  NASCAR.  Congress give NASCAR $7 million a year to put decals on the race cars.  In consideration of losing so many other really needed services, a Minnesota Democrat requested to stop the funnel of money to NASCAR.  The bill was brought down easily by a straight Republican vote.

That tells us where some Congress people really are.  NASCAR is more important than educating our children.

Interesting that this bit of news did not become news.... must not be important...


House votes to let Pentagon sponsor NASCAR races

WASHINGTON (AP)—The House has voted to let the Pentagon continue using taxpayer dollars to sponsor NASCAR race teams.

By a 281-148 vote, lawmakers rejected an effort by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum that would have ended the practice. McCollum aides said the Army is spending $7 million on a sponsorship this year, and the Air Force and National Guard are spending additional money.

McCollum said the military spends the funds to place decals on race cars and for a few driver appearances. The armed forces hope the sponsorships will help them attract recruits.

The Navy and Marine Corps dropped their NASCAR sponsorships in recent years, saying they didn’t know whether they worked.

Most Democrats backed McCollum’s effort, while Republicans voted overwhelmingly against it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Have a Soft Drink! Become a medical subject

That's how it is folks.  We drink and drink all types of soft drinks (need I name names, one of them has red on the can).  We eat chips, hamburgers, lots of white rice, and fries.  Then it happens... As we get older we get fatter and fatter (some don't wait, they get fatter much younger).  The we are around 30 something and surprise, our sugar is high, we have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  That's when life changes... maybe..  If it doesn't change we wait, in denial limbo, eating the same, not exercising and BOOM!  Its dialysis time.  Our kidneys fail and we are in for the worst roller coaster ride of our lives....

It could happen to you!


February 19, 2011

Today’s Lab Rats of Obesity: Furry Couch Potatoes

HILLSBORO, Ore. — Like many these days, Shiva sits around too much, eating rich, fatty foods and sipping sugary drinks. He has the pot belly to prove it, one that nearly touches the floor — when he’s on all fours, that is.

Shiva belongs to a colony of monkeys who have been fattened up to help scientists study the twin human epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The overweight monkeys also test new drugs aimed at treating those conditions.

“We are trying to induce the couch-potato style,” said Kevin L. Grove, who directs the “obese resource” at the Oregon National Primate Research Center here. “We believe that mimics the health issues we face in the United States today.”        

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The New Face of the Middle East

The resurrection of pan-Arabism

The Egyptian revolution has resurrected a new type of pan-Arabism, based on social justice not empty slogans.

Last Modified: 11 Feb 2011 18:51 GMT

The Egyptian revolution, itself influenced by the Tunisian uprising, has resurrected a new sense of pan-Arabism based on the struggle for social justice and freedom. The overwhelming support for the Egyptian revolutionaries across the Arab world reflects a sense of unity in the rejection of tyrannical, or at least authoritarian, leaders, corruption and the rule of a small financial and political elite.

Arab protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people also suggest that there is a strong yearning for the revival of Egypt as a pan-Arab unifier and leader. Photographs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, have been raised in Cairo and across Arab capitals by people who were not even alive when Nasser died in 1970. The scenes are reminiscent of those that swept Arab streets in the 1950s and 1960s.

But this is not an exact replica of the pan-Arab nationalism of those days. Then, pan-Arabism was a direct response to Western domination and the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel. Today, it is a reaction to the absence of democratic freedoms and the inequitable distribution of wealth across the Arab world.

We are now witnessing the emergence of a movement for democracy that transcends narrow nationalism or even pan-Arab nationalism and which embraces universal human values that echo from north to south and east to west.

This is not to say that there is no anti-imperialist element within the current movement. But the protests in Egypt and elsewhere promote a deeper understanding of human emancipation, which forms the real basis for freedom from both repression and foreign domination.

Unlike the pan-Arabism of the past, the new movement represents an intrinsic belief that it is freedom from fear and human dignity that enables people to build better societies and to create a future of hope and prosperity. The old "wisdom" of past revolutionaries that liberation from foreign domination precedes the struggle for democracy has fallen.

The revolutionaries of Egypt, and before them Tunisia, have exposed through deeds - not merely words - the leaders who are tyrants towards their own people, while humiliatingly subservient to foreign powers. They have shown the impotence of empty slogans that manipulate animosity towards Israel to justify a fake Arab unity, which in turn serves only to mask sustained oppression and the betrayal of Arab societies and the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian pretext
The era of using the Palestinian cause as a pretext for maintaining martial laws and silencing dissent is over. The Palestinians have been betrayed, not helped, by leaders who practice repression against their own people. It is no longer sufficient for regimes in Syria and Iran to claim support for Palestinian resistance in order to stifle freedom of expression and to shamelessly tread on human rights in their own countries...more

Lamis Andoni is an analyst and commentator on Middle Eastern and Palestinian affairs.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Spanish: The Assault on Education

LAUSD despidió a cerca de 5 mil empleados en los últimos dos años. J. Emilio Flores/La Opinión
Los 7,302 preavisos de despido que el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) enviará este año están ya en camino. Aunque las temidas "papeletas rosadas" no se han enviado todavía, la Junta Escolar del distrito aprobó ayer el plan presentado por el superintendente Ramón Cortines y el vicesuperintendente John Deasy, en el que se incluye el peor escenario posible: un déficit de 408 millones de dólares, de un presupuesto sobre el que todavía pesan muchas dudas.
"La esperanza es que muchos de estos despidos no se materialicen, pero tenemos que prepararnos para cumplir con los plazos legales", dijo Deasy.

The Empire Falls Down

The toxic residue of colonialism - 

At least, overtly, there has been no talk from either Washington or Tel Aviv - the governments with most to lose as the Egyptian revolution unfolds - of military intervention. Such restraint is more expressive of geopolitical sanity than postcolonial morality, but still it enables some measure of change to take place that unsettles, temporarily at least, the established political order.

And yet, by means seen and unseen, external actors, especially the United States, with a distinct American blend of presumed imperial and paternal prerogatives are seeking to shape and limit the outcome of this extraordinary uprising of the Egyptian people, long held in subsidised bondage by the cruel and corrupt Mubarak dictatorship. What is the most defining feature of this American-led diplomacy-from-without is the seeming propriety of managing the turmoil, so that the regime survives and the demonstrators return to what is perversely being called "normalcy"...more

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Spanish: Questions about Guilt in the Chandra Levy Case

WASHINGTON/AP  — La madre de la becaria de Washington Chandra Levy dijo hoy que le gustaría creer que el salvadoreño Ingmar Guandique es el responsable de la muerte de su hija, pero admitió que aún tiene ciertas dudas.

Durante una entrevista al programa de la cadena CBS "The Early Show", se le preguntó a Susan Levy si se sentía al 100% segura de que el hombre correcto había sido condenado por el crimen. "Para ser honesta, siempre tengo ese 5% de no estar segura", contestó.

Guandique recibió el viernes una sentencia de 60 años de prisión, por lo que podría morir en la cárcel.

El salvadoreño, un inmigrante indocumentado, fue declarado culpable en noviembre de asesinato en primer grado por la desaparición y muerte de Levy en Washington DC en 2001, pese a la falta de testigos y de evidencia de ADN que lo vinculara con el crimen...mas

Immigrants or Exiles from Turmoil

Fleeing Tunisian migrants land on Italian island

News Wires (text)
AFP - Nearly 1,000 Tunisian migrants arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa overnight, where the government has already declared a humanitarian emergency, coast guards said Sunday.
"Since midnight, 977 people arrived on Lampedusa," the harbour master on Lampedusa, Antonio Morana, said as two more boats approached the tiny island off Sicily.
Thousands of Tunisians have been sailing across the Mediterranean in the wake of the North African country's revolution a month ago...more