Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for July 17th, 2010

Honduran dictatorship, day 191 (with editorial)

Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2010

The major story for this week is of fissures inside the resistance, with the political types hoping to harness the movement into a revival of the Liberal Party, and everyone else wanting to make it about genuine democracy. RAJ and I translated an article by Oscar Estrada on the issue. Some excerpts:

The Liberal Party, which historically had a moderately progressive origin, has been controlled by the right for at least the last 60 years….The Liberal Party as a an institution never, through its individual leaders, owners, and caudillos, will be able to understand the urgencies of the dispossessed classes of the country, simply because they belong to another class, and therefore to another Honduras….This is the basic contradiction of the Liberal Party in Resistance. To form a part of the FNRP and to propose to “rescue” the Liberal Party which amounts to rescuing the bipartisanship reigning for more than 100 years. To rescue the Liberal Party, the same Liberal Party would have to seize the Party….What those communiques [from othes in the Frente[ demand, more than representation in the leadership of the Frente, is a different vision of power….It is a demand, to the entire FNRP, that it see power as something that is constructed from the base, from below, because the history of the peoples has demonstrated to us that in the end, a revolutionary government without popular power is nothing more than a reactionary government with a populist discourse.

To editorialize a bit, this speaks to what is going on in the United States. As a descendent of the original English migrants to this country, one whose family was deeply involved in its foundation, construction, and rise to power, I am deeply ambivalent about direct democracy. On the one hand, I see that what we call “representative democracy” has become a sham, perhaps even worse than “a reactionary government with a populist discourse.”

But what has happened even as power has been concentrated in the hands of corporations is that most citizens have become incapable of participating in democracy. Our very best have their opinions and facts which support it. Almost no one tries to understand both sides of the issue. Dean Baker is an exceptionally well-informed and well-intentioned man, but one who has never run a business. When he proposes solutions to problems involving business, he sounds like an idiot. And, not to pick on Dean, it’s a problem endemic to Democrats (not to mention many Republicans who have never run a business, who think that regulations and taxes are all that business thinks about). Participants in a real democracy have to understand that it is like a living body: the eye cannot prosper at the cost of the heart, nor the lung at the cost of the brain. In a word, homeostasis. This understanding of homeostasis (which is, by the way, a fundamental teaching of Christianity but one that most Christians do not understand or practice) is required for direct democracy to be possible. Authoritarianism is a kind of cancer, in which parts of the system think they can thrive at the expense of the rest.

Jeremy Kryt published a piece (including interviews with Adrienne). Some excerpts:

In addition to the millions spent to mobilize the armed forces against the populace, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, as international investment fell off during the violence that followed the coup. The crippling unemployment is leaving many families with no means of support, even as food and commodity prices rise due to instability. More than sixty percent of the country gets by on less than two dollars a day…

Ecologists report that logging in Honduras delicate, dry pine forests has increased dramatically since the far-right coup – causing dangerous deforestation and local climate change, as the trees are slowly replaced by scrub and savannah….

“We know the water’s not safe to drink or bathe in,” says Carlos Amador, a teacher in the Siria Valley, home of Honduras’ largest goldmine, owned by Canada’s Goldcorp. On a visit to the Goldcorp mine, THP documented symptoms from mass poisoning in nearby villages that included lesions, hair loss, and mental retardation; the conditions being most pronounced in infants and children. “But this is their home. Where else can they go?” says Amador. “For many poor families, there’s just no choice.”…

“It’s our money that is killing Hondurans,” Pine says. “That blood is on our hands. And if we are not speaking up against that, then we are the ones responsible.”

Adrienne has some valuable local color. Some excerpts:

Drug trafficking is so dangerous that even being in a room when other people are talking about it is too frightening for many Hondurans….El Heraldo proclaimed dengue to be “out of control,” promoting a militarized state of emergency that’s doing nothing to mitigate the public health crisis but plenty to allow soldiers to stay on the streets and force themselves into anyone’s home with the excuse of fumigation…. [Talking to a particularly obtuse UN employee who claimed that Zelaya had been corrupt, but Micheletti and Lobo are not] “It’s true, I said, when there are accusations of corruption, one shouldn’t worry about things like democracy and legal process, right?” “EXACTO,” he said, apparently glad I got it.

And this story:

There in the office, I spoke with a young man who told me a story he said he’d never told anyone. One day, he said, he had been planning to commit suicide. He had thought it through, and he didn’t have a gun, so that wasn’t an option. He would have jumped out of a window but Tegucigalpa doesn’t have any buildings that are high enough, and he was afraid of ending up alive and crippled. So he decided to OD. He was on the phone, saying goodbye to a friend (it would have been too much to say goodbye to his family, he loved them but he couldn’t face them). He was crying, his friend was trying to talk him out of it, he was undone, when suddenly someone put a gun to his head and demanded all his money. He turned everything over, and when the assailant left, he realized he had no desire whatsoever to die, and hadn’t been suicidal since.

Adrienne also has photos from the march in Tocoa.

In Tiempo, Edmundo Orellana Mercado, former defense minister, says that the leadership of the Liberal Party must resign or stay in the wilderness for another 20 years. RAJ has a translation of another piece by Orellana Mercado–which appeared in pro-coup La Tribuna— in which he says that the return of Zelaya is essential to reconciliation, but at this point impossible, since the regime keeps threatening to prosecute Zelaya. Also, Zelaya has certain demands. In Tiempo, it’s reported that he insists that the Liberal Party acknowledge that what happened was a coup and that it expel participants such as Roberto Micheletti.

Via Adrienne, Casa Alianza says that 85 children were killed in April alone. Via Adrienne, Karla Lara goes to Vancouver in early August to talk about the repression and murder of journalists. Maybe she’ll also talk about Canada’s complicity.

RAJ translates the communique from the Frente, in which it names the leaders of the Resistance:

Juan Barahona and Carlos H. Reyes (Tegucigalpa), Will Paz (Colón), Leonel Amaya (Olancho), Lucía Granados (San Pedro Sula), Lilí Aguilar (Lempira), María Antonia Martínez (of the movement Feministas en Resistencia), Porfirio Amador (Choluteca), Jaime Rodríguez and Edgardo Casaña (of the Federación de Organizaciones Magistrados de Honduras FOMH), Juan Chinchilla (Juventud Bajo Aguan), Víctor Petit (Comayagua), Teresa Reyes (Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras Ofraneh), José Luis Baquedano (Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras CUTH).

In addition, Zelaya and an as-yet-to-be-named Lenca representative.

Nathan Pavia, a Misquito Indian leader, has died at age 52, Revistazo reports.

This is as much as I have time for at this moment.


Posted in Honduras, Latin America | Comments Off on Honduran dictatorship, day 191 (with editorial)

All the news that the State Department thinks is fit to print

Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2010

Jeremy Bigwood, NACLA

The U.S. State Department is secretly funneling millions of dollars to Latin American journalists, according to documents obtained in June under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The 20 documents released to this author—including grant proposals, awards, and quarterly reports—show that between 2007 and 2009, the State Department’s little-known Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor channeled at least $4 million to journalists in Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela through the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), a Washington-based grant maker that has worked in Latin America since 1962. Thus far, only documents pertaining to Venezuela have been released. They reveal that the PADF, collaborating with Venezuelan NGOs associated with the country’s political opposition, has been supplied with at least $700,000 to give out journalism grants and sponsor journalism education programs.

Before 2007, the largest funder of U.S. “democracy promotion” activities in Venezuela was not the State Department but the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). But in 2005, these organizations’ underhanded funding was exposed by Venezuelan American attorney Eva Golinger ….

So we have the spectacle of the Venezuelan media serving to recite whatever the State Department says it should, which is then recycled into the New York Times and the Washington Post so that the State Department can criticize Chavez for what the State Department has previously inserted into the Venezuelan media.

One need not like or approve of Hugo Chavez to realize that this is really, really wrong.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Media machine, mediawhores, State Department, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

Chopping up the oak furniture for kindling

Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2010

The kind of people who, in times of economic distress, demand cutbacks to services instead of taxes do not understand that the savings may not be there, because many costs are invisible. In some cases, it is not simply a matter of costs. We may lose things that are not replaceable, as when one chops up antique oak furniture just to heat the room.

Via Calculated Risk, this article from Lauren Etter of WSJ:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls….

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as “poor man’s pavement.” Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel….

Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road “is not a free road,” says Purdue University’s John Habermann…

Not to mention that unpaved roads degrade air quality and have difficult-to-quantify costs–and irreversible health damage– associated with lung disease.

Posted in 'starving the beast', financial crisis, when government is a good thing, You're On Your Own-ership Society | Comments Off on Chopping up the oak furniture for kindling

Things Found En Route To Looking Up Other Things

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 17, 2010

Making mozzarella — in the microwave?

Hmmm. I’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes. If all is well, my basil, thyme and tomatoes will have a nice accompaniment on top of the dosa.

Posted in food, India, Just for fun | 1 Comment »

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