". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group

They want Iran.
[ Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group

Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.

Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy.

Next month, Freedom’s Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States, according to several benefactors of the group.
Although the group declined to identify the experts, several were invited from the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington research group with close ties to the White House. Some institute scholars have advocated a more confrontational policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, including keeping military action as an option. ]

[ With a forceful message and a roster of wealthy benefactors, Freedom’s Watch has quickly emerged from the crowded field of nonprofit advocacy groups as a conservative answer to the nine-year-old liberal, which vehemently opposes the Iraq war.

The idea for Freedom’s Watch was hatched in March at the winter meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Manalapan, Fla., where Vice President Dick Cheney was the keynote speaker, according to participants. Next week, the group is moving into a 10,000-square-foot office in the Chinatown section of Washington, with plans to employ as many as 50 people by early next year. ]

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Rights Advocate’s Work Divides Dominicans - SONIA PIERRE

[ Born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, Ms. Pierre, 44, has spent her life advocating on behalf of Haitians and ethnic Haitians who hold Dominican citizenship but are subjected to racial discrimination in a society that places a high value on lighter skin. At the age of 13, she organized a protest by sugar-cane workers in one of the Dominican slums — known as bateyes — where she grew up seeing Haitian workers oppressed by their Dominican bosses.

Her current troubles with the government stem from 2005, when her organization, Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women, took to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights the case of two ethnic Haitian children who were denied Dominican birth certificates. The court found in their favor, ordering the government to provide the birth certificates and pay $8,000 in damages to each of the children. ]

[ Race is a complicated issue in the Dominican Republic, where much of the population traces its ancestry to the African slaves brought to the island, but where few regard themselves as black. Ms. Pierre said it was considered a compliment for a light-skinned Dominican to tell a dark-skinned one that he had the soul of a white person. Saying that someone thinks like a black person, Ms. Pierre says, is the equivalent of labeling the person ignorant. ]

[ “Haitianization” is what Dominicans call the negative influences that poor Haitians bring to their side of the island. Mr. Morales, the foreign minister, explained in his letter protesting Ms. Pierre’s award that his country could not handle the huge numbers of illegal Haitian immigrants. He put the blame on the United States and other countries for failing to improve conditions in Haiti. ]

Security Vacuum Cleaner

link to official document Federal Registry

[ Buried in the September 5 issue of the Federal Register, was a notice that this Thursday, September 20, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will hold public hearings on their ¨Secure Flight Plan.¨

Come with me into a nightmare world where American citizens will have to obtain permission from the government before they can travel by air in the U.S. ]

[ Beginning in February 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement their ¨Advance Passenger Information System (APIS),¨ the gist of which is that you will need permission from the United States Government to travel on any air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. The travel companies will not be able to issue a boarding pass until you are cleared by DHS. This applies to ALL passengers, US citizens and visitors alike. And how do you get said permission to travel? That´s for your government to know and you to never find out. ]

Friday, September 28, 2007


The Nation online
September 27, 2007 (October 15, 2007 issue)
Chávez: 'Galbraithiano'
Greg Grandin

Last year, the New York Times reported that Hugo Chávez, in his speech before the United Nations--the one in which he called George W. Bush the Devil and urged Americans to read Noam Chomsky--expressed regret that he hadn't had a chance to meet the linguist before he died. A call to Mr. Chomsky's house, the Times writer quipped, found him very much alive. The Times, though, had to issue a quick correction when, upon review of the original Spanish, it became clear that Chávez was referring not to Chomsky but rather to John Kenneth Galbraith, who had indeed passed away a few months before.

There is something more than a little ironic about this incident, where the press, in a rush to ridicule the controversial Hugo Chávez, lost John Kenneth Galbraith in translation, for it is exactly the Harvard economist's brand of New Deal social democracy, itself long expunged from public discussion, that would allow for a more honest consideration not just of Chavismo but the broader Latin American left of which it is a vital part. ]

The rest of the article is available only to subscribers. But the short piece concludes:

[ The re-emergence of the Latin American left signals a revival ofdemocratic developmentalism, but with a key difference. While in the1940s reformers sought to extend political power through unions andpeasant associations vertically linked to parties or leaders, todaythey rely on a diverse, horizontal array of "new social movements" tocounter their countries' extreme concentration of wealth and politicalpower--Brazil's Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, forexample, or Bolivia's Movimiento al Socialismo, less a political partythan a coalition of social movements, or Ecuador's powerful indigenousgroups. ]

And with this:

[ Chávez often repeats an observation by one of his favorite economists to bring homethe point. "Never before," the Venezuelan president quotes Galbraithas saying, "has the distance between reality and 'conventional wisdom'been as great as it is today." ]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Candidate Support Rally Washington Square Park

I head up to Washington Square Park as is my wont at this time of day when it is so nice outside to go over yesterday's work.

Can't get in. I'm assaulted at all sides by obama supporters asking me for money to support his candidacy, to wear his buttons, etc.

I am locked out of the park. I've been locked out of it since it was supposed to open at 6 or is it 7 a.m. this morning. The place is barricaded and NYC cops -- whose overtime here I'm paying for -- because -- Obama is having a Support Obama rally at 6 p.m. and security cannot allow any real human beings, er, voters even walking on the ground for 12 hours before hand.

In the meantime for most of this week I've not been able to go anywhere on the east side within 40 square blox of the UN because of clownface nattering on about human rights, freedom of speech and why reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is the wrong way to deal with climate change -- while, of course anyone who protests what he says is arrested, and / or kept 40 blox away from him.

This country's so very f*cked.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Contraband at Guantánamo -- Underwear!

The Guantánamo Blog

You really cannot believe how lame the military is.

This is written by one of the lawyers working with the detainees.

He's accused of smuggling -- speedos!


We attorneys have been accused of lots of under handed things by the military (on one occasion when the military screwed up and wouldn't let me see my client they filed a false affidavit in court claiming I did not want to see my client but instead wanted to go bird watching...) now one of the habeas counsel is accused of surreptitiously supplying underwear to two of his clients.... contraband underwear... and a really have to read both letters (below) to understand just how lame the military is..... ]

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Has come round again.

In observance, thereof, then, I recommend to you this book, which I have just obtained myself after a prolonged wait:

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodward.

Now, myself am no drivilswinger, but there are sea of lubber scallywag squiffeys I'd hoist a jug of bumboo to see dance the hempen jig. By the powers first they best be keelhauled, then given a round with the cat o' nine tails!

Yo ho ho y'all!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Death of History - Robert Fisk

The first number in the article is apparently a mistake (was the lede possibly written by a editor?), since Sumerian civilization collapsed sometime around 2,000 BC.

[ 2,000-year-old Sumerian cities torn apart and plundered by robbers. The very walls of the mighty Ur of the Chaldees cracking under the strain of massive troop movements, the privatisation of looting as landlords buy up the remaining sites of ancient Mesopotamia to strip them of their artefacts and wealth. The near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilisation – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation.

Evidence amassed by archaeologists shows that even those Iraqis who trained as archaeological workers in Saddam Hussein's regime are now using their knowledge to join the looters in digging through the ancient cities, destroying thousands of priceless jars, bottles and other artefacts in their search for gold and other treasures.

In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, armies of looters moved in on the desert cities of southern Iraq and at least 13 Iraqi museums were plundered. Today, almost every archaeological site in southern Iraq is under the control of looters.

In a long and devastating appraisal to be published in December, Lebanese archaeologist Joanne
Farchakh says that armies of looters have not spared "one metre of these Sumerian capitals that have been buried under the sand for thousands of years.

"They systematically destroyed the remains of this civilisation in their tireless search for sellable artefacts: ancient cities, covering an estimated surface area of 20 square kilometres, which – if properly excavated – could have provided extensive new information concerning the development of the human race. ]

The google search that yielded this took 0.07 seconds -- done by Vaquero: "disclaimer: i have no knowledge of the provenance of these specificartifacts or the business practices of this company. i reproduce this as anexample of the easy accessibility of the market and the pricing of its lowerend. -- NS(BTW, the reason these cuneiform tablets are receipts for barley is thatbarley was the money of the time and place.)"pictures in original

Ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian Artifacts for Sale
Cuneiform Tablets
From Ur III. 2800--2500 BC.
An authentic example of the first form of writing in the world!
Cuneiform tablet #mt044. Measures 45 x 34 mm (1 3/4 x 1 3/8 inches).

A hand-inscribed receipt for barley in ancient Mesopotamia! $200Cuneiform tablets dating from 2,150 - 2,000 BC. From the famous Mesopotamian city of Ur. Recording various administrative things... recording bundles of reed or barley issued, seal impressions. Average size around, 1 3/4". $200each.

Click any image for Larger View Ancient Sumerian-Bead Jewelrycirca 3,000 -- 2,000 BCE

The 'Cradle of Civilization' Wonderful carnelian and shell bead necklace. 4,500 years old. Measures 18 inches long. restrung on secure wire with modern silver clasps. A gem! $399.These beautiful beads were hand carved from black and white stone and shell nearly 5,000 years ago. Sumerians valued jewelry as a sign of status and wealth. So many of these beads were produced during this time that theyliterally litter the desert sands in some areas of the Middle East. These beads were legally excavated in Syria. The beads have been re-strung on sturdy flexible wire with sterling silver clasps and findings, and areperfectly wearable.

Sumerian bead necklaces:Each approximately 17 inches long $95.99 Length can be adjusted and priced accordingly. Please ask for details.

Sumerian bead earrings:$45 per pair.

To purchase any of these items, or for more information, CLICK HERE

Cuba All Linux, No Windows

09/15/07 - Cubanow (Havana) - Cuba is preparing to quit Windows and avoid Microsoft

By Pedro Falcón

It’s a measure aimed at breaking the dependence on programs that are under the control of US owners and also anticipating any claims by the patent’s owners for the use of this system in Cuba. Cuban authorities are seriously preparing to quit the Windows operating system and use the GNU/Linux free software instead, thus avoiding any sanctions for using this computer system by the Windows´ owner, the giant Microsoft Corporation.

More than 3 800 technicians have been already trained in the country, and Ciego de Ávila, located in the mid eastern part of the Island, is a good example of this. In that province, there are around 600 people taking intensive 4-month courses to learn about the use of Linux and replace the Windows operation system.

It’s a measure aimed at breaking the dependence on programs that are under the control of US owners and also anticipating any claims by the patent’s owners for the use of this system in Cuba, which cannot be paid because of the US commercial embargo, among other reasons. That is why the Cuban authorities have decided to train their specialists by delivering the Linux and the Computer Operator for Linux courses that started at the end of 2005.

Last Sunday, September 9th, the country celebrated the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the so-called Computer Club for the Young; and idea that was promoted by the Cuban president Fidel Castro. On Saturday, the Cuban leader sent a message of congratulation to this IT organization, which has thousands of members across the country, as well as state-of-the-art equipment and professors that teach about the different digital techniques.

Linux came out as a free alternative to the Windows program created by the Bill Gates´ company, and it provides users with the freedom to access its source codes and to modify them, thus enhancing the privacy of information. And it’s all totally free of charge. The software was created in 1991 by a Finnish student called Linus Torvalds. Among other advantages, it allows compatibility ¨with the equipment we have in the country and its immunity to the majority of the computer viruses¨, says the newspaper.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Disaster Capitalism

Disaster Capitalism: The new economy of catastrophe
by Naomi Klein
PUBLISHED September 8, 2007

This article is a preprint for subscribers. Itwill appear in the October 2007 Harper's Magazine.

This is astounding information and observation, though, when we think about it, not in the least surprising, confirming what we already know, have witnessed, and tragically, some of us have already experienced personally.

It goes along with the current loud touting of climate change capitalism, and how the market is going to deal with it. Yay! for the ice caps melting and the new sea passages! So good for the economy.

Ms. Klein's article, based on her book, is far too long to post all of it here, even though it's not yet available for online reading. But here are a few pulled paragraphs (if one would like to see the entire article, let me know via e-mail):

[ Everywhere in Iraq, the wildly divergent values assigned to different categories of people are on crude display. Westerners and their Iraqi colleagues have checkpoints at the entrances to their streets, blast walls in front of their houses, body armor, and private security guards on call at all hours. They travel the country in menacing armored convoys, with mercenaries pointing guns out the windows as they follow their prime directive to "protect the principal." With every move they broadcast the same unapologetic message: We are the chosen, our lives are infinitely more precious than yours. Middle-class Iraqis, meanwhile, cling to the next rung down the ladder: they can afford to buy protection from local militias, they are able to ransom a family member held by kidnappers, they may ultimately escape to a life of poverty in Jordan. But the vast majority of Iraqis have no protection at all. They walk the streets exposed to any possible ravaging, with nothing between them and the next car bomb but a thin layer of fabric. In Iraq, the lucky get Kevlar; the rest get prayer beads.

Like most people, I saw the divide between Baghdad's Green and Red zones as a simple by-product of the war: This is what happens when the richestcountry in the world sets up camp in one of the poorest. But now, after years spent visiting other disaster zones, from post-tsunami Sri Lanka to post-Katrina New Orleans, I've come to think of these Green Zone/Red Zone worlds as something else: fast-forward versions of what "free market" forces are doing to our societies even in the absence of war. In Iraq the phones, pipes, and roads had been destroyed by weapons and trade embargoes. In many other parts of the world, including the United States, they have been demolished by ideology, the war on "big government," the religion of tax cuts, the fetish for privatization. When that crumbling infrastructure is blasted with increasingly intense weather, the effects can be as devastating as war. ]

[ "Neglected Defense: Mobilizing the Private Sector to Support HomelandSecurity," a 2006 report whose advisory committee included some of thelargest corporations in the sector, warned that "the compassionate federalimpulse to provide emergency assistance to the victims of disasters affectsthe market's approach to managing its exposure to risk." Published by theCouncil on Foreign Relations, the report argued that if people know the government will come to the rescue, they have no incentive to pay forprotection. In a similar vein, a year after Katrina, CEOs from thirty of thelargest corporations in the United States joined together under the umbrellaof the Business Roundtable, which includes in its membership Fluor, Bechtel,and Chevron. The group, calling itself Partnership for Disaster Response,complained of "mission creep" by the nonprofit sector in the aftermath ofdisasters. The mercenary firms, meanwhile, have been loudly claiming that they are better equipped than the U.N. to engage in peacekeeping in Darfur.

Much of this new aggressiveness flows from suspicion that the golden era of bottomless federal contracts might not last much longer. The U.S. governmentis barreling toward an economic crisis, thanks in no small part to thedeficit spending that has bankrolled the privatized disaster economy. Sooner rather than later, the contracts are likely to dip significantly. In late 2006 defense analysts began predicting that the Pentagon's acquisitionsbudget could shrink by as much as 25 percent in the coming decade.

When the disaster bubble bursts, firms such as Bechtel, Fluor, andBlackwater will lose much of their primary revenue streams. They will still have all the high-tech equipment bought at taxpayer expense, but they will need to find a new business model, a new way to cover their high costs. The next phase of the disaster-capitalism complex is all too clear: with emergencies on the rise, government no longer able to foot the bill, and citizens stranded by their hollow state, the parallel corporate state will rent back its disaster infrastructure to whoever can afford it, at whatever price the market will bear. For sale will be everything from helicopter rides off rooftops to drinking water to beds in shelters.

Wealth already provides an escape hatch from most disasters-it buysearly-warning systems for tsunami-prone regions and stockpiles of Tamiflu for the next outbreak. It buys bottled water, generators, satellite phones,and rent-a-cops. During the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, the U.S. government initially tried to charge American citizens for the cost of their own evacuation, though it was eventually forced to back down. If we continuein this direction, the images of people stranded on New Orleans rooftops will not only have been a glimpse of America's unresolved past of racia linequality but will also have foreshadowed a collective future of disaster apartheid, in which survival is determined primarily by one's ability to pay.

Perhaps part of the reason so many of our elites, both political and corporate, are so sanguine about climate change is that they are confident they will be able to buy their way out of the worst of it. This may alsopartially explain why so many Bush supporters are Christian end-timers. It's not just that they need to believe there is an escape hatch from the worldthey are creating. It's that the Rapture is a parable for what they arebuilding down here on Earth-a system that invites destruction and disaster,then swoops in with private helicopters and airlifts them and their friendsto divine safety. ]

There is much, much, much more. She's speaking at the NYPL Humanties Research Library next week; it's already sold out.

Friday, September 7, 2007

requiem for katrina

ATale of God's Will (a requiem for katrina), on the jazz label, Blue Note, is mostly composed, conducted, produced by trumpeter-composer, Terrence Blanchard. This album is an expansion of the music he wrote for Spike Lee's HBO series, When the Levees Broke. He includes new material on this expansion of the sound track by members of his band. It's been what we've been listening to most since the end of August, i.e. the anniversary of the breaking of the New Orleans's levees, sometimes several times in a single day.

This is a difficult period. It's now the interregnum between the two great catastrophe-disasters of our entwined lives, between August 29th and September 11, both of which changed our lives and those of the people we are most close to, for the rest of our days. Both of these disasters, if not exactly caused by the current political regime, were made infinitely worse by their actions and non-actions both.

These are the watershed for us: before we were still young; after, we no longer were.

So then it seems appropriate that this album is just a bit more movie score-ish in places than we would normally like. The music of our lives, our national lives, as heard by a movie composer.

The cuts:

Ghost of Congo Square
Wading Through
In Time of Need
Ghost of Betsy
The Water
Mantra Intro
Over There
Ghost of 1927
Funeral Dirge
Dear Mom

There is a great deal of history embedded in these titles, if you know New Orleans and the Mississippi River history. For example, "Ghost of 1927" refers to the great floods of 1927 and 1928 when the entire Mississippi drainage system, from the Missouri Platt on down over-topped the banks and levees, concluding with the deliberate dynamiting of the levees that drowned (black) thousands in the lower parishes of Louisiana, to save the property of the capitalists.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Just that too, missing in action.

There's been lots of action, here in la casa de Fox and Vaquero, in the City, in the nation and the world, and, evidently, when it comes to cyber space for Fox, Elsewhere, these last weeks. A great deal of worthwhile discussion in Fox's Elsewhere re the Atlantic slave trade, the persistence of culture, culture's generational transmission and the role cultural identity plays in resistence politics -- and, um, what do White People currently have as culture that could persist and become resistence, as has African diaspora culture throughout the New World? It was a long and exciting discussion, and Fox was bushy-tailed pleased, right down to her paw claws, that she'd provoked such a thing.

Additionally, this could be useful if certain developments come through starting next year, and she'd actually, have to, you know TEACH some courses in a university. Fox isn't big on teaching, but she probably can do it. She did it once, and her students were the best of the semester, every semester.

Riverbend's in Syria

And posting.