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January 31, 2006

Think Progress Blogs and Webcasts re SOTU

I think the blog entries are more interesting than the webcast.

Why isn't there a female writer on the staff? Why only the color commentator, aka ditzy host of the webcast?!?!?

http://thinkprogress.org/?tag=State+of+the+Union

And um, the webcast only works well via IE, not Firefox.

Posted by cj at 9:43 PM | Comments (0)

SOTU Sucks

democracy = capitalism + transnational corporations + American soldiers

radical Islam = catch-all phrase for "the Evil Doers"
fear breeds loyalty
loyalty breeds blind faith
blind faith breeds total control
total control is the objective of POTUS

USG only wants "democracy" in our enemies' countries.
Democracy is not important in Egypt, where political parties were denied access to polls and its illegal to protest.
Democracy is not important in the US, where peace protestors are thrown into federal prison for months at a time and soldiers convicted of "negligant homicide" (i.e. murder) walk free

Wow. I wrote about Egypt before he lied about "multi-party elections" and apparently the Congress is in lock-step behind the idea that Palestinians are holding up the peace process when Israel is the one who refused to negotiate for years before the recent elections...

I'm gettin sick of liberty, hope, and democracy. How many frickin times can one man say those words?!?!

Reminder: the Evil Doers are All Around You. Thank Goodness for the popo.

PATRIOT ACT?!?! A tool of law ienforcement? It's a tool of denial of civil liberties, a way to stranglehold ppl in America as well as abroad.

See, the constitution and statutes give me the authority to spy on you, Mr. Joe American. (did you notice his dropping of the "g" in talking? Apparently, we need to be talked to in folksy-ness when being lied to about presidential power.

Yeah right. Republicans really appreciate immigrants. That's why they just gave Bechtel a contract to build more holding pens for ICE, to hold undocumented workers like cattle...

TAX RELIEF? American families? My frickin taxes never went down. Tax cuts during a war?!?! What happened to being fiscally conservative you damn moron? I really hate his smirk.

...and the Grolsch goes down smoothly...

Woohoo! Less government help! Why don't you pass more corporate welfare you baffoons and fully screw America's workers by completing your transfer of social services to private companies that can waste more money on administrating a worse system than the current one.

Increase Taxes! Decrease Spending on Corporate Welfare and the Military Industrial Complex!

Go Dems! Have a Spine! Note the horrid squalor of Shrub's social security "reform proposal" with your clapping.

Healthcare is a right, Not a commodity. Real reform would be a national, single-payer healthcare system.

How did I know his clean energy plan would include money for COAL?!?!?! Nuclear energy? Give me a frickin break.

Ethanol. A boom for politicians from small states with lots of corn. A disaster in terms of "new technology."

If you signed the Kyoto Protocol, it'd be a helluva lot easier to be an Environmental President.

Talent and Creativity? While you Cut Spending for grants to colleges? Give me a frickin break!

Your Culture Is Doomed To Unravel.
Progressive, thoughtful, honest culture is destined to inherit the earth.

Mangling your words again. Good thing you got some water during the applause break. "Legislate from the bench" - a lie propagated by Republicans. Liberals don't legislate from the bench, conservatives do.

Stay in School - where you'll learn how to pass standardized tests and lose all hope of creativity.

Really? You're meeting immediate needs? Where? Not New Orleans.

I've got mad job skillz. Doesn't help when employers refuse to pay higher salaries and healthcare costs increase exponentially every year.

Really? We can defeat AIDS? But it's not curable.

Yay Ryan White ACT! I worked on the TAC (Technical Assistance Contract) for that at John Snow, Inc.

Oh now you're just being silly. No new infections? Platitude b.s.

History is not turning. You Are a Moron Leading Us Towards Our Own Distruction.

I know Lincoln and MLK, Jr., sir. And you are like neither of them.

History is written in courage? We aint all macho bullshitters like you, sir.

Thank goodness it's over. 51 minutes of pure hell.

Posted by cj at 9:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2006

Sunday Mornin Teevee

First, a brief program note: I hate when the Bears season ends. Not because I follow football - I can't even watch the Super Bowl this year - but because it messes up my Sunday morning routine. Now, Meet the Press starts a half hour later, meaning that the last half hour runs at the same time at Ebert & Roepert. I think I missed their annual Note to the Academy program, but don't know for sure.

Back to the talk shows -

This Week: Like most media outlets, they spent a bunch of time giving an update on the tragic state of their reporters. Bob Woodruff and his camera man were hit by an IED and were in surgery this morning. While I share the sympathy of all the shows for the men and their families, I wonder why their situation is so much more worthy of air time then anyone else who gets hit by IEDs, is abused by US troops and Iraqi officials, or otherwise suffers in Iraq. Ok, moving on -

George talked to Barack Obama (who was Tim's guest last week). As usual, Obama sounded realistic and strategic - he doesn't come across as a politician trying divide the country for political gain, but rather looks to working with Republicans to clean up lobbying practices and other American problems.

Chuck Hagel was the Republican counterpart on This Week. It was interesting that George kept pointing out the ways Hagel is different from the Bush admin - Hagel believes in open, honest governing, including releasing photos of Bush with Abramoff and being honest about who Abramoff met with in the administration and what they discussed.

Note re This Week: they have a helluva lot more commercial breaks compared to MtP.

Onto MtP at 10am: over a half an hour with Republican Majority Liar Bill Frist. Think I'm too partisan? I really started gagging towards the end of the half hour when Frist refused to acknowledge Tim's assertion that the Minority Leader Reid rejected creating a Task Force on lobbying because he wants to create legislation, not more studies. Frist just kept repeating that he offered a bipartisan approach and Reid rejected it. Then Frist kept turning his politician's fake smile on his lies on CNBC that Tim quoted re the "blind trust" arrangement for his HCA stock. (HCA is the corrupt for-profit hospital chain that Frist's family created and runs that has ruined healthcare and workplace conditions for millions of people in the US.)

Due to my disgust with Frist, I tried to find solace in ABC. Found out that Chris Penn died. (Cause unknown.) Ebert & Roepert was a repeat, so I switched back to MtP.

The talking heads chattered on. I didn't pay much attention because they're all milquetoast heads - there's Never Ever a truly progressive opinion expressed, although often hard-line conservatives are invited to these round table discussions. I was reading my NYT (after learning that the cost is going up...seems the prices increase on everything when the calendar year changes except my paycheck, which went down due to an increase in my heath insurance cost)...okay, so all I heard was Tim saying: "Whoa, that’s going to set the blogs a running there, Kelly." Didn't actually hear Kelly's comment, so I'm thankful for the transcript. Here's what preceded that comment:

MR. RUSSERT: The president said the other day that this is a wide open race, the most wide open he’s ever seen. Does he have any kind of wink, or nudge towards any Republicans?

MS. O’DONNELL: Well, he was very careful because he knows that anything he says will influence the process. I think if he could get Condoleezza Rice to run he’d be happy about that, but we know where she stands on it.

Interesting aside to this Rice comment: I went to a lecture yesterday by a professor from Stanford, who used to work with/for Rice (she was provost of Stanford). He said that she refuses to hear any opinion that differs from her's and believes those opinions to be traiterous. So why the hell do so many pundits and politicians want her to run?!?! And where, oh where, is the Realistic, Effect Left in this country? I guess it's on PBS, since Now is starting and talkin about the new doc, "Why We Fight," that blasts the military industrial complex. Then again, it was preceded by "John McLaughlin's One On One," and McLaughlin is a one note right-wing wonder. The only problem with PBS is there are no breaks...which can be a problem at the end of 6 cups of coffee...

Posted by cj at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2006

More Morales...because today is his inauguration day

Figured out the reasoning behind yesterday's coca coverage - today is Morales' inauguration. Today, the NYT reported Morales donned replications of traditional ancient indigenous leader garb for a ceremony at the pre-Incan capital Tiwanaku, which proclaimed him the leader of all of Bolivia's Indian tribes. It was the first such ceremony for a Bolivian president, which makes sense since Morales is the first indigenous president since Bolivia became independent.

Interesting historic note in article: There is still tension between Bolivia and Chile because Chile won a 19th century war and appropriated Bolivian access to the Pacific Ocean, making it a land-locked country. (FYI, Mexico similarly appropriated a large amount of Guatemalan territory.)

Morales met with the US Ambassador to Bolivia and the Undersecretary of State for the Western Hemisphere on Saturday and everyone declared it a productive first meeting.

On the other hand, Morales met with Cuban reporters this morning and La Prensa quoted him:

In his modest La Paz-based residency, and after admitting his nervousness for the task he is about to face, the new president underlined the commitment he has taken before the "Pacha Mama" (Motherland.)

"As president I ought to work for my country, regain its natural resources, think about the well-being of the Motherland, about its deities, about my parents, about Bolivia, either asleep or awake," he said.

I wonder if Morales is living in La Paz or Cochabamba, where his residence is, according to the NYT. Cochabamba is a poor suburb of La Paz, known best for its citizens fight against Bechtel's attempt to privatize all of their water supply, including rainwater. (Bechtel dropped its $25 million claim against Bolivia this week.)

I love the fact that an indigenous politician from the poorest country in the Americas has captured the world's attention. I hope people, especially the Bolivian people, give him time to get his government up and running before passing judgment on his administration.

As the NYT points out, even Hugo Chavez, leader of oil-rich Venezuela has infrastructure problems. (The main road between Caracas and its airport was shut down due to soil erosion, causing pressure on the domestic economy.) I think it takes a long time to overcome the problems of colonialism, especially when faced with the imperialist-style foreign policy of the Bush administration.

More info:
"Bolivia's Leader Solidifies Region's Leftward Tilt," by Juan Forero and Larry Rohter in the NYT
"Evo Morales Has a Dream for Bolivia," by Luis Enrique González of Prensa Latina
"Morales's rise inspires Andean groups: Indigenous organizations in the region hope to gain a boost from Evo Morales's victory in Bolivia." by Lucien Chauvin of the Christian Science Monitor
"Bolivia's Morales pledges to work with US," from Reuters via New Zealand's Stuff
"Bolivia's Morales Set to Take Office" by the AP via the IHT
"Bolivia to Hand Power to First Indigenous President," by Reuters via NYT

Posted by cj at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2006

Coca, Morales, Bolivia, the World

I have to admit that I don't believe the USG's "War on Drugs" is effective or a good use of taxpayer money. It's not that I think all drugs should be legal; it's just that I think the bulk of our money should go to curbing addiction and lifting people up from whatever situation causes them to be prone to addiction (poverty, mental illness, natural proclivity for addiction, etc.) In other words, I believe curbing demand is much more effective than burning crop fields and criminalizing poor farmers. Additionally, I think the USG creates far too many rhetorical wars and instead should be creating healthy, peaceful cultural touchstones.

WaPo fronts an interesting article on Bolivian President-Elect Evo Morales and coca production. Like most articles written for US consumption, Monte Reel mentions the indigenous use of coca in passing and provides much more detail about how coca becomes cocaine, that evil and illicit drug. The article is sorta an evergreen - it doesn't really provide any new, immediate information. I suppose it is very scary to Washington types that the former head of the coca growers union is about to become Bolivia's first indigenous president.

I believe understanding the customary use of coca in South America is more useful for understanding Morales' position, than is a description of chemical process of creating cocaine. As a child of the 80s, I initially found it hard to believe that coca was really part of any culture - since cocaine (and crack) are such Evil, Destructive Drugs. As a more open-minded adult, I've met people who grew up drinking coca tea (in Peru) and enjoy chewing coca leaves when they visit their family. According to Wikipedia, coca was central to cultures in the pre-Incan and Incan periods:

The coca plant was so central to the worldview of the Yunga and Aymara tribes of South America that distance was often measured in units called "cocada", which signified the number of mouthfuls of coca that one would chew while walking from one point to another. Cocada can also be used as a measurement of time, meaning the amount of time it takes for a mouthful of coca to lose its flavor and activity. In testament of the significance of coca to indigenous cultures, it is widely believed that the word "coca" most likely originally simply meant "plant," in other words, coca was not just a plant but the plant.
Clearly, this plant has roots far deeper than the 1980s. And I respect cultural differences enough to not pass judgment on the use of coca leaves, especially since it seems to be a relatively mild stimulant in its natural form.

Another interesting thing I learned from Wikipedia is that coca is still used to create Coca-Cola. Originally, Coke used green coca leaves, with their naturally occurring cocaine (and other substances, including nicotine). Now, Coke creates cocaine with the coca leaves - sells the cocaine to pharmaceutical companies - and uses the "spent" leaves as an ingredient in its secret formula. So, today Coke contains less coca than it once did. (By the way, cocaine was never an ingredient in Coke.)

So, what's the problem with Bolivian coca manufacturing? The USG believes that a significant amount of it is exported as cocaine to Brazil, therefore negating all of the cultural uses for coca. And even though the USG foots the bill for the eradication of coca and supports farmers who transition to other export crops, the farmers are weary of making the move. Here's a quote from a coca farmer, the last paragraph of the WaPo story:

"We have to grow coca because it's the only crop that brings enough money to feed our families," said Ureña, 54, who paused from sweeping his leaves to fill the plastic bag of a passerby who wanted a little for chewing. "And with Evo, I think things are going to get a lot better."
Simple economics have always favored grey and black market activities - those items almost always provide more income than completely legal substitutes. I hope that more studies will be done on the health effects of coca and if possible, it will be accepted as an legitimate ingredient just as poppy seeds are legal, even though heroin is not.

Posted by cj at 5:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

Right Wing v. Left Wing College

A friend at DePaul University alerted me to a problem being experienced on her campus: conservative students, armed with activist training are creating turmoil and the people they are tormenting seem to be responding like textbook liberals. I don't know enough about the situation at DePaul to say anymore about it, but my friend pointed me to this really interesting article, "My Right Wing Degree," by Jeff Horwitz on Salon that explains this phenomenon.

I'm particularly intrigued that everyone uses the term "Leadership Institute," or some variation of that. I attended a Leadership Institute for union organizing. I kept bumping my head against the union's emphasis on This Election and This Win and This Crisis. While I agree that there is a shockingly low number of Americans in unions, I don't think the way to increase union membership working in crisis mode 24/7. Instead, I appreciate the groundswell approach of Morton Blackwell's LI. I think the right is effective because they play the game of politics; the left is ineffective because they either appeal constantly to Higher Truths or get stuck in the mud, reacting to meaningless drivel of the day. Obviously, lack of union representation is not meaningless drivel; but failure to think long term is a problem for most progressives.

Will you join me in changing this? Think more long term; take time to pay attention to world affairs that aren't the top of broadcast news programs. And let's figure out how to keep ourselves sane in this insane world by not getting outraged by every single thing that happens.

Posted by cj at 9:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2006

Conkrite Says Get Out of Iraq

Entertaining AP article re Walter Conkrite, beloved news anchor from the time before I remember teevee news. (Cut me some slack - I was three when he retired.)

He thinks we should get out of Iraq and spend the money on hurricane recovery. Clearly, he's been out of the news gathering business for awhile since he pays no attention to the military industrial complex.

Amusing bit o Daily Show yesterday: Eugene Jarecki having a child-like amazement at Eisenhower's military industrial complex farewell address. And his doc re same, Why We Fight. Glad to see people other than my fellow peace & justice studies students and peace activists taking the military industrial complex seriously.

Posted by cj at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

Bachelet Elected President in Chile!

Hurrah! As I previously reported, Socialist Party candidate Michelle Bachelet won the first round of presidential elections in Chile and yesterday she won the final round, making her Chile's first female president! Yay! (To review: according to Chilean law, a presidential candidate must receive over 50% of the votes to win the office; since Bachelet had two major opponents in the first round, she got 46% of the vote. In the second round, she received 53%, while her opponent billionaire Conservative Sebastian Piñera received 46%.

Bachelet appealed to people's desire to acknowledge the terrible dictatorship of Pinochet (who killed her father and tortured Bachelet and her mother before allowing them to flee into exile), while moving forward into a new era. Bachelet is a pediatrician. Later in life, she studied strategic studies at the national war college and the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, DC. After her strategic studies, she became politically active and was named Minister of Health. Two years later, she was named Minister of Defense, the first woman to hold that position. I am impressed with all aspects of her life, especially her belief that you must fully understand the military in order to change its place in society.

"You know that I have not had an easy life, but who has had an easy life?" Bachelet told supporters Sunday night during a victory speech in downtown Santiago. "Violence entered my life, destroying what I loved. Because I was a victim of hate, I have dedicated my life to turn that hate into understanding, into tolerance and, why not say it, into love."
I am impressed that a Catholic, traditional country (where only 36% of women have paid employment) accepted an agnostic, single mother as their president. This level of cultural acceptance is just as profound as the political shift taking place elsewhere in South America. Bachelet trusts the USG and free trade much more than other South American leaders; but she tempers that trust with a desire to directly help the Chilean poor.

I am excited by her victory and look forward to her presidency.

More information:
Above quote from "Chile Elects First Female President: Bachelet, a Former Political Prisoner, Will Keep Socialists in Power," by Monte Reel in WaPo
"A Leader Making Peace With Chile's Past," biographical sketch by Larry Rohter in NYT
"What is Missing in This Woman's Victory? Coattails by Larry Rohter in NYT

Posted by cj at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2006

Members of the Tribe: Damn Good Breeders

My health has gone steadily downhill this week, culminating in a strep throat diagnosis today. And when I get sick, I tend to not pay as much attention to Hard News. One story really stuck out to me: "Study finds why Jewish mothers are so important," by Maggie Fox of Reuters via Yahoo News

Turns out 40% of Ashkenazi Jews (the ones y'all stereotype as All Jews Everywhere and some fools think I don't fulfill the stereotypes b/c I'm not a neurotic Jewish American Princess), descended from four women. Makes you wonder if that has something to do with the four foremothers my Bible praises (along with three forefathers; we too were polygamous once).

Priceless quote:

What the study also shows, Behar said, is that Jewish mothers are highly valued for a good reason. "This I could tell you even without the paper," he said.

Posted by cj at 9:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2006

Judging Alito

Sometimes I really wonder about all of the hoopla around Supreme Court nominations. I do believe it is an important subject; I just think now is the wrong time to get your feathers riled up. Why? Because somehow - whether fairly or through malfeasance - the US re-elected Bush and a majority Republican Senate and House. That means that the majority of the electorate, or at least the ones who have their votes counted, don't take their right to privacy and the rights of the individual seriously when electing officials. The Democrats aren't always a great option; but I generally believe they are a better option than Republicans. And since the electorate doesn't agree with me, it is possible Roe v. Wade wll be overturned and this imperial presidency will continue unabated.

So what I don't get is how people spend their activist time protesting in the streets against Alito as a Justice. I sure as hell wouldn't vote for him, and I hope my senators feel the same way. And I'm willing to send them an email on the subject. But beyond that, I feel that there are areas of politics more open to change than how my senators vote. Which is why my activist time will be spent understanding the 50th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women; US Policy on Israel and Palestine; and growing the US Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

In case you're still interested in Alito, the NYT has an editorial that neatly sums up the reasons to oppose his nomination.

Posted by cj at 7:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2006

The Year in Review

When I was younger, I thought the best way of understanding the world was by going from the macro to the micro level. I am still most fascinated by macro-level theories; but now I recognize the importance of beginning on the micro-level to fully appreciate the interconnectedness of the world.

As I look back on 2005, it was a time of chaos and turmoil, hope and rebirth. My micro viewpoint starts with my own life. I learned how to love and share life, how to be whole in tandem, how to accept heart break and move forward in my own individual life. I leave behind every single shared dream I started 2005 with; although I hold out a faint glimmer of hope to eventually find the person who will truly support me and share my life in a mutually beneficial way.

Because of the abrupt changes in my social circle this year, I don't have a firm grasp on what's happened to my community this year. I can say that my family and friends (the true friends; who were there before 2004 and will remain long after 2006) have grown and prospered and deeply lived in ways I never imagined. I'm proud of all of them, especially those whom I lost touch with and am just reaching again.

I've now lived in Chicago 1.5 years. One of the best aspects of this town is Chicago Tonight, the PBS weekday news broadcast. It is by far the best local news broadcast I have ever seen. While I'm never really interested in the long sports roundtables, what other program would give time to two music critics chatting about U2's concerts and the politics / economics of music venues? I chat with my coworkers about the monarchy of Mayor Daley; none of them seem to care that there is no democracy in city politics (as long as the trash is picked up, the streets are relatively safe, and the trains/buses continue to run). Outside of political writers, it seems that no one in Chicago cares that Daley's administration was plagued by scandals; seems to them like Republicans trying to make politics illegal. I'm struck by the complete lack of imagination when it comes to politics in this town. Sure, we got to help elect Barack Obama in 2004; but in reality, Chicago is cut up into ethnic enclaves that few people cross and even fewer try to bridge. Radical democracy is an utterly foreign concept in this town. Geographic divisions remain even stronger than ethnic ones: many die-hard Cubs fans refused to rejoice for the White Sox's epic World Series win. It is difficult to express how divided Chicago is between the North and South sides. Most of the media - print, tv, radio - either also owns the Cubs or is produced for the North side audience. Of course, mainstream media is usually produced for the more affluent members of a community; but the confluence of ownership by the Tribune corporation of the Cubs, the Trib newspaper, WGN tv and radio, along with their many companies in other major markets (from tv to radio to newspapers, including the LA Times) is simply astounding. To me, it says more about class culture that the equally numerous Sox fans rarely sold out their stadium during the regular season, than it does about the Trib company. Then again, South-siders are quick to point out that Cellular Field holds about twice as many ppl as Wrigley Stadium, and that their attendance was roughly on par with the Cubs all season. But seriously, the Cubs are everyone's favorite losers; shouldn't winners be able to sell out a stadium?

National news was depressing and more depressing. Bush's second term continued the failed policies of his first term: destructive hegemonic foreign policy, imperial occupation of foreign countries, complete disregard for the environment, civil liberties, and human life, all coming into stark relief when he praised his incompetent lackey FEMA Administrator Brown during the initial aftermath of the man-made disaster following Hurricane Katrina. Anderson Cooper and CNN provided the absolute best media coverage of that terrible catastrophe which we still haven't recovered from; nor have we begun to change the problems that created it. Territorial in-fighting caused a lack of serious upkeep of the dams surrounding New Orleans; passing the buck attitude kept the majority of New Orleans mired in poverty; failure to recognize the lack of resources available to most of the population left hundreds of thousands of people in the Gulf Region stranded; failure to create real communication links between local, state, federal emergency authorities since the great warning of 2001 greatly expanded the level of destruction; and the national public and national leaders have left the Gulf Region behind because our worst problems as a society seem insurmountable, or at least unable to be solved within the span of a news or election cycle and therefore untouchable.

The greatest hope in 2005 came from social movements outside of the US. Protests in Lebanon forced the removal of many of Syria's overt forms of occupation, unfortunately also leading to the assassination of two leaders of the reform movement. Women continue to be left out of the state-formation process in Iraq, but at least they were guaranteed a small percentage of seats in the Afghani parliament. Egypt had another sham election, praised by the USG; but recognized as a farce by most people. Israel withdrew from Gaza while increasing settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and continuing to build a "security" wall, that was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.

Darfur, Sudan continues to suffer from a state-sponsored genocide, while world leaders stand around wringing their hands. Rape as an act of war continued unabated in many African conflicts; and rape survivors and their children continued to be shunned by societies so ensconced in backward morality that their religious leaders often refuse to accept condoms as a necessary weapon in the fight against AIDS. I have to admit, I do not follow African news as closely as I do other parts of the world, so it is difficult for me to name specific countries and what's happening. Interesting to note that Zimbabwe continues to be ruled by the wretched Mugabe, who threw out Western journalists and kicked poor people out of their homes, continuing his reign of terror which began with an interesting desire to re-distribute land to the black majority population and is currently a dictatorship of disastrous proportions.

In Asia, North Korea and China continue to top the world headlines. First, there's the Bush administration's muddled actions towards stopping North Korea's nuclear program. Kim Jong Il recently kicked out international aid agencies, saying I guess that the famine that is killing many of his constituents is bad for his country's image, so better to cut off aid than remind ppl that it exists. China continues to be the "sleeping dragon," or perhaps really has already resumed its position as a super-power, but Westerners are too myopic to see that. It mediates six-nation anti-nuke talks with North Korea; it holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and has strong links to Iran; and it produces tons of manufactured goods. It undercuts the US around the world, buying up oil and other resources from regimes disliked by the US.

Speaking of resource-rich countries currently standing tall against US hegemony, Latin America is by far the best success story of 2005. Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez led a grassroots protest against US economic abuse at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in November in Mar del Plata, Argentina. The second female to be democratically elected head of state in Latin America, Michelle Bachelet, is on her way to power, leading the polls during the first round of elections in Chile and fighting for her position against a billionaire in a run-off later this month. Alas, not all news from Latin America was positive this year. The people of Guatemala protested loudly against ratification of CAFTA, but after the military tear-gassed them out of the capitol, the Guatemalan parliament accepted CAFTA. Nevertheless, the power of Mercosur, and the power of the people of Latin America provides a powerful check on the expansion of corporate globalization in this hemisphere.

In other global news, South Asia continues to rebuild itself after being hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami. It is yet another example of human inability to create sustainable development in a short period of time after a natural catastrophe. In some places, civil strife was tempered by a shared desire to rebuild, while elsewhere civil war has re-kindled. North Americans thought they understood The March of the Penguins of Antarctica, but really only saw a Disney-fied glimpse of a species threatened by global warming. There was a terrorist attack in London on the heels of the 2012 Summer Olympics host announcement, and on the first day of the G8 summit. Speaking of G8, it produced a global free concert series, Live 8, an attempt to help Make Poverty History through music. Much more happened in Europe and Russia, but I don't follow those areas very closely. In Southeast Asia, a horrific earthquake rocked Kashmir. The subsequent aid from Westerners did more to boost Pakistani opinion of us than any other interaction in recent years.

Despite catastrophic natural and man-made disasters, I continue to believe 2005 will lead to an even brighter 2006. Time recognized philanthropists and a crusader as Persons of the Year; Latin Americans pushed back against neo-liberal economics; young Westerners were enlightened that their governments' foreign policy exacerbates Africa's problems; and women continue to take a stand for their equal participation in government and economics around the world. On the whole, I think it's been a very good year; although the details are not all so rose-colored.

Posted by cj at 1:11 PM | Comments (1)