". . . 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, December 30, 2007

Fidel's Message to the National Assembly

In this eloquently and precisely written message, Fidel addresses the challenges of 2008, particularly climate change; toward the end he speaks to the crisis in Pakistan. Even through this translation the reader can see what a very good writer-thinker Fidel has become. He writes as effectively as he speaks, and he writes more succinctly than he speaks. Witnessing this rare evolution into a philosopher of vast real world political experience by an individual leader who held absolute power for so many decades has been an equally rare privilege of my lifetime.

=Stop= Fox


- Granma (Habana) -
Fidel's Message to the National Assembly

Dear comrade Alarcón:

Please read the following message, addressed to the National Assembly, whenyou open the morning session.

A heartfelt embrace,
(Signed)Fidel Castro Ruz

December 27, 2007
8:40 p.m.

Comrades of the National Assembly:

You have no easy task on your hands. On January 1st, 1959, surrounded by the accumulated and deepening grievances that our society inherited from its neo-colonial past under U.S. domination, many of us dreamed of creating a fully independent nation where justice prevailed. In the arduous and uneven struggle, there came the moment when we were left completely alone.

Nearly 50 years since the triumph of the Revolution, we can justifiably feel proud of ourselves, as we have held our ground, for almost half a century, in the struggle against the most powerful empire ever to exist in history.

In the Proclamation I signed on July 31, 2006, none of you saw any signs of nepotism or an attempt to usurp parliamentary powers. That year, at once difficult and promising for the Revolution, the unity of the people, theP arty and State were essential to continue moving forward and to face the declared threat of a military action by the United States.

This past December 24, during his visit to the various districts of the municipality which honored me with the nomination of candidate to parliament, Raúl noted that all of the numerous candidates proposed by the people of a district famous for its combativeness, but with a low educational level, had completed their higher education. This, as he said on Cuban television, made a profound impression in him.

Party, State and Government cadres and grassroots organizations face new problems in their work with an intelligent, watchful and educated people who detest bureaucratic hurdles and inconsiderate justifications. Deep down, every citizen wages an individual battle against humanity's innate tendency to stick to its survival instincts, a natural law which governs all life.
We are all born marked by that instinct, which science defines as primary. Coming face to face with this instinct is rewarding because it leads us to a dialectical process and to a constant and altruistic struggle, bringing us closer to Martí and making us true communists.

What the international press has emphasized most in its reports on Cuba in recent days is the statement I made on the 17th of this month, in a letter to the director of Cuban television's Round Table program, where I said that I am not clinging to power. I could add that for some time I did, due to my youth and lack of awareness, when, without any guidance, I started to leav emy political ignorance behind and became a utopian socialist. It was a stage in my life when I believed I knew what had to be done and wanted to be in aposition to do it! What made me change? Life did, delving more deeply into Martí's ideas and those of the classics of socialism. The more deeply I became involved in the struggle, the stronger was my identification with those aims and, well before the revolutionary victory I was alreadyconvinced that it was my duty to fight for these aims or to die in combat.

We also face great risks that threaten the human species as a whole. This has become more and more evident to me since I predicted, for the first time in Rio de Janeiro, --over 15 years ago, in June 1992-- that a species was threatened with extinction as a result of the destruction of its natural habitat. Today, the number of people who understand the real danger of this grows every day.

A recent book by Joseph Stiglitz, former Vice-President of the World Bank and President Clinton's chief economic advisor until 2002, Nobel Prize laureate and best selling author in the United States, offers up-to-date and irrefutable facts on the subject. He criticizes the United States, a country which did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, for being the largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, with annual emissions of 6 billion tons of thisgas which disturbs the atmosphere without which life is impossible. In addition to this, the United States is the largest producer of other greenhouse gases.

Few people are aware of these facts. The same economic system which forced this unsustainable wastefulness on us impedes the distribution of Stiglitz' book. Only a few thousand copies of an excellent edition have beenpublished, enough to guarantee a margin of profit. This responds to a market demand, which the publishing house cannot ignore if it is to survive.

Today, we know that life on Earth has been protected by the ozone layer, located in the atmosphere's outer ring, at an altitude between 15 to 50 kilometers, in the region known as the stratosphere, which acts as the planet's shield against the type of solar radiation which can prove harmful. There are greenhouse gases whose warming potential is higher than that of carbon dioxide and which widen the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, which loses as much as 70 percent of its volume every spring. The effects of this phenomenon, which is gradually taking place, are humanity's responsibility.

To have a clear sense of this phenomenon, suffice it to say that the world produces an average of 4.37 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita. In the case of the United States, the average is 20.14, nearly 5 times as much. In Africa, it is 1.17, while in Asia and Oceania it is 2.87.
The ozone layer, in brief, protects us from ultraviolet and heat radiation which affects the immune system, sight, skin and life of human beings. Under extreme conditions, the destruction of that layer by human beings wouldaffect all forms of life on the planet.

Other problems, foreign to our nation and many others under similar conditions, also threaten us. A victorious counterrevolution would spell a disaster for us, worse than Indonesia's tragedy. Sukarno, overthrown in 1967, was a nationalist leader who, loyal to Indonesia, headed the guerrillas who fought the Japanese.

General Suharto, who overthrew him, had been trained by Japanese occupation forces. At the conclusion of World War II, Holland, a U.S. ally, re-established control over that distant, extensive and populated territory. Suharto maneuvered. He hoisted the banners of U.S. imperialism. He committed an atrocious act of genocide. Today we know that, under instructions from the CIA, he not only killed hundreds of thousands but also imprisoned a million communists and deprived them and their relatives of all properties or rights; his family amassed a fortune of 40 billion dollars -which, at today's exchange rate, would be equivalent to hundreds of billions- by handing over the country's natural resources, the sweat of Indonesians, to foreign investors. The West paid up. Texan-born Lyndon B. Johnson, Kennedy'ssuccessor, was then the President of the United States.

The news on the events in Pakistan we received today also attest to the dangers that threaten our species: internal conflict in a country that possesses nuclear weapons. This is a consequence of the adventurous policies of and the wars aimed at securing the world's natural resources unleashed by the United States.

Pakistan, involved in a conflict it did not unleash, faced the threat of being taken back to the Stone Age.

The extraordinary circumstances faced by Pakistan had an immediate effect on oil prices and stock exchange shares. No country or region in the world can disassociate itself from the consequences. We must be prepared for anything.

There hasn't been a day in my life in which I haven't learned something.

Martí taught us that "all of the world's glory fits in a kernel of corn". Many times have I said and repeated this phrase, which carries in eleven words a veritable school of ethics.

Cuba's Five Heroes, imprisoned by the empire, are to be held up as examples for the new generations.

Fortunately, exemplary conducts will continue to flourish with the consciousness of our peoples as long as our species exists.

I am certain that many young Cubans, in their struggle against the Giant in the Seven-League Boots, would do as they did. Money can buy everything savet he soul of a people who has never gone down on its knees.

I read the brief and concise report which Raúl wrote and sent me. We must not waste a minute as we continue to move forward. I will raise my hand, next to you, to show my support.

(Signed)Fidel Castro Ruz
December 27, 2007
8:35 p.m.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Fisk On Bhutto

If, as seems likely, Bhutto was wrong, either on purpose or by mistake, about Osama bin Laden's death (which she referred to in an interview early in November by David Frost -- it's on YouTube), it seeems she wouldn't have been a more credible leader than Mussharaf as time went on, at least judging on her past record of corruption and other wrongs. We want to believe in saviors so badly, it's sending this nation, at least, into a death spiral.

In the meantime, Robert Fisk, in The UK Independent, has this to say;

in The UK Guardian, this;

and in the previous issue of The London Review of Books (count on Fisk to be on the game), this.

This is how Fisk ends the first article (in The UK Independent):

[ But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was "looking forward" to talking to his old friend Musharraf. Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance – a certain Mr Khan – who supplied all Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let's not bring that bit of the "axis of evil" into this. So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those "extremists" and "terrorists", not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir's assassination.
It doesn't, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan?

Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month?
Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month?
Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month?
Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?
Er. Yes. Well quite.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hobsbawm's "On Empire: America, War, and Global Supremacy"

A galley of a slender volume (97 pages, w/ bibliography) that will come out from Pantheon in March. Vaquero says:

[ ... a collection of essays written in the first years of the 21st century considering contemporary global political issues in light of history. Fernand Braudel may have championed the idea of la longue durée, but Hobsbawm is the longue durée, having been born in 1917 (making him a contemporary of Bebo Valdés and Cachao). I wish I could write as concisely and clearly. If I were in charge of having to pick a short, simply written book that an entire freshman college class ought to be able to comprehend and discuss, this would be it. I’ll go so far as to key in a few hundred words: ]

[ . . one general trend can probably be observed across most of the globe. It is the change in the position of the independent territorial state itself, which in the course of the twentieth century became the basic political and institutional unit under which human beings lived. In its original home in the North Atlantic region, it was based on several innovations made since the French Revolution. It had the monopoly of the means of power and coercion: arms, armed men, prisons. It exercised increasing control by a central authority and its agents of what takes place on the territory of the state, based on a growing capacity to gather information. The scope of its activity and its impact on the daily life of its citizens grew, and so did success in mobilizing its inhabitants on the grounds of their loyalty to state and nation. This phase of state development reached its peak forty years or so ago.

Think, on the one hand, of the “welfare state” of Western Europe in the 1970s, in which “public consumption” – i.e., the share of the gross domestic product (GDP) used for public purposes and not private consumption or investment – amounted to between roughly 20 percent and 30 percent. Think, on the other hand, of the readiness of citizens not only to let public authorities tax them to raise such enormous sums, but actually to be conscripted to fight and die “for their country” in millions during the great wars of the last century. For more than two centuries, until the 1970s, this rise of the modern state had been continuous, and proceeded irrespective of ideology and political organization – liberal, social democratic, communist, or fascist.

This is no longer so. The trend is reversing. We have a rapidly globalizing world economy based on transnational private firms, doing their best to live outside the range of state law and state taxes, which severely limits the ability of even big governments to control their national economies. Indeed, thanks to the prevailing theology of the free market, states are actually abandoning many of their most traditional direct activities – postal services, police, prisons, even important parts of their armed forces – to profit-making private contractors. It has been estimated that 100,000 or more such armed “private contractors” are at present active in Iraq. Thanks to this development and the flooding of the globe with small, but highly effective, weaponry during the Cold War, armed force is no longer monopolized by states and their agents. Even strong and stable states like Britain, Spain, and India have learned to live for long periods at a time with effectively indestructible, if not actually state-threatening, bodies of armed dissidents. We have seen, for various reasons, the rapid disintegration of numerous member-states of the UN, most but not all of them products of the disintegration of twentieth-century empires, in which the nominal governments are unable to administer or exercise actual control over much of the states’ territory, population, or even their own institutions. Actual separatist movements are found even in old states like Spain and Britain. Almost equally striking is the decline in the acceptance of state legitimacy, of the voluntary acceptance of obligation to ruling authorities and their laws by those who live on their territories, whether as citizens or as subjects. Without the readiness of vast populations, for most of the time, to accept as legitimate any effectively established state power – even that of a comparative handful of foreigners – the era of nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperialism would have been impossible. Foreign powers were at a loss only in the rare zones where this was absent, such as Afghanistan and Kurdistan. But, as Iraq demonstrates, the natural obedience of people in the face of power, even in the face of overwhelming military superiority, has gone, and with it the return of empires. But it is not only the obedience of subjects but of citizens that is rapidly eroding. I very much doubt whether any state today – not the United States, Russia, or China – could engage in major wars with conscript armies ready to fight and die “for their country” to the bitter end. ]

Fox again: This is the book you need to read that tells in plain language how we arrived in this terrible condition of the planet's deterioration, the implosion of progress and civil liberties, the consolidation of shrinking resources and ever more wealth into the hands of a very small elite, supported and exacerbated by the ever increasing global spread of war made by private individuals and armies -- mostly upon civilians, not nation-states upon professional, national armies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Icelandic Tourist Held In Shackles At Airport

And this blonde, blue-eyed young woman isn't even a member of the demographics and classes, like Mexican and Levantines who are expected to expect illegal detention and torture!

[ On Thursday, Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir told U.S. Ambassador Carol van Voorst that the treatment of Lillendahl was unacceptable.

"In a case such as this, there can be no reason to use shackles" Gisladottir said. "If a government makes a mistake, I think it is reasonable for it to apologize, like anyone else."

Van Voorst has contacted the officials at JFK airport and asked them to provide a report on Lillendahl's case, Gisladottir said. ]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An Interview With Kim Stanley Robinson - Climate Change

Comparative Planetology: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson

It begins like this:

[ BLDGBLOG: I’m interested in the possibility that literary genres might have to be redefined in light of climate change. In other words, a novel where two feet of snow falls on Los Angeles, or sand dunes creep through the suburbs of Rome, would be considered a work of science fiction, even surrealism, today; but that same book, in fifty years’ time, could very well be a work of climate realism, so to speak. So if climate change is making the world surreal, then what it means to write a “realistic” novel will have to change. As a science fiction novelist, does that affect how you approach your work?

Kim Stanley Robinson: Well, I’ve been saying this for a number of years: that now we’re all living in a science fiction novel together, a book that we co-write. A lot of what we’re experiencing now is unsurprising because we’ve been prepped for it by science fiction. But I don’t think surrealism is the right way to put it. Surrealism is so often a matter of dreamscapes, of things becoming more than real – and, as a result, more sublime. You think, maybe, of J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, and the way that he sees these giant catastrophes as a release from our current social set-up: catastrophe and disaster are aestheticized and looked at as a miraculous salvation from our present reality. But it wouldn’t really be like that. ]

Just the sort of thing I am thinking about, re my mess-in-progress. While the limburger&co bellow "global climate change is a liberal scam to get taxpayers' dollars into their own pockets!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

From the New Hobsbawm

From the galley of On Empire: America, War and Global Supremacy; March 18, 2008; Pantheon Books, this from the chapter titled, "War, Peace, and Hegemony at the Beginning of the 21st Century" -- note, Eric Hobsbawm does not write in the first person in the other parts of this essay, or address the reader, as he does here:

[ Frankly, I can't make sense of what has happened in the United States since 9/11 that has enabled a group of political crazies to realize long-held plans for an unaccompanied solo performance of world supremacy. I believe it indicates a growing crisis within American society, which finds expression in the most profound political and cultural division within that country since the Civil War, and a sharp geographical division between the globalized economy of the two seaboards, and the vast resentful hinterland, the cuturally open big cities, and the rest of the country. Today a radical right-wing regime seeks to mobilize "true Americans" against some evil outside force and against a world that does not recognize the uniqueness, the superiority, the manifest destiny of America. What we must realize is that American global policy is aimed inward, not outward, howver great and runinous its impact on the rest of the world. It is not designed to produce either empire or effective hegemony. Nor was the Donald Rumsfeld doctrine -- quick wars against weak pushovers followed by quick withdrawals -- designed for effective global conquest. Not that this makes it less dangerous. On the contrary. As is now evident, it spells instability, unpredictability, aggression, and unintended, almost certainly disastrous, consequences. In effect, the global ambitions of an uncontrollable and apparently irrational government in Washington. ]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Seas of Blood

Craig Unger -- what he heard on a trip to the Holy Land with lehaye and about 90 evangelicals:

[ As LaHaye sees it, the word "secular" is not merely a morally neutral term that means "worldly." It means "ungodly," and, in his view, there are godly people--who are on the road to Rapture--and then there is the rest of the world, which is either complicit with the Anti-Christ, or, worse, actively assisting him. As a result, LaHaye argues, good evangelicals should no longer think of humanists merely as harmless citizens who just happen not to attend church. "We must remove all humanists from public office," he writes, "and replace them with pro-moral political leaders."

These views may sound extreme, but that does not mean they are marginal. The Council for National Policy, a powerful but secretive umbrella group founded by LaHaye more than 25 years ago, has had extraordinary access to the Oval Office during the Bush-Cheney era. As the late Jerry Falwell told me in 2005, "Within the Council is a smaller group called the Arlington Group. We often call the White House and talk to Karl Rove while we are meeting. Everyone takes our calls." Falwell added that they were consulted on crucial issues such as Supreme Court nominees.

Reports of the death of the Christian Right have been greatly exaggerated. This time around, their man is Huckabee. ]

The rapturists testify to how they eagerly await the seas of blood when the billions of non-christians are killed.

The Dems' Forum Today in Iowa

Such a difference from yesterday and the gops' forum of angry and mean mean all terrified of everything from US to immigrants to THEM and the future, and howling about religion in government and schools and everywhere as the only answser to everything. And getting rid of the income tax in favor of a flat tax on EVERYTHING (meaning when you pay your gas and electricity bills you pay another 23 - 30 cent per dollar) and getting rid of everything federally funded from education to social security (which we've funded, but nevermind).

In contrast, the Dems all sounded sound, intelligent, informed, committed, courageous, energetic and -- lordessa save us, even optimistic, while not pretending that that challenges are nearly beyond counting and enormous. They sounded ready to take on these challenges and eager to do so.

Of course, Dennis Kucinich was barred from participating because he didn't have a campaign team on the ground in Iowa -- or something equally bogus.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

GOP Iowa 'Debate'

More and more it looks as though this nation's movers&shakers are on the way to declaring a lack of health insurance to not be a health problem but a crime.

The only response to the problems of health care in this nation is to force everyone to have health insurance.

Hello? People don't have health insurance because they can't afford it. Declaring it mandatory doesn't change the fact that people can't afford health insurance.

Not to mention that health insurance charges more and more and more and pays for less and less and less.

IOW, another way to transfer your money to the corporate fat cats. Man, by now, they really must all just be pushed around in lorries, considering how fat they are.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Mystery Found On The Street

The mystery about this find is here. The cord is of some synthetic material. It wasn't broken, but melted, which presumably is the reason the Cuban tres pesos coin was on the street now, not around the neck of whomever was wearing it. Why was it melted off? Why there? Who did it? The person to whom it belonged? Who was s/he? Why was it removed?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"Electoral College" Copyrighted by NeoCon Clothing Company

If I understood that correctly.

Got to this new blog site, "It's All One Thing" and check out the "Copyright Trumps Free Speech."

Another tactic in the strategy to change the states' electoral college rules AND shut down all public protest against this.