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The XOLAGRAFIK Diaries [episode 1: “cambiando”]

December 27th, 2008 § 26 comments § permalink

THE UMX BLOG will see changes in 2009, and though you don’t know it, we have begun already! I’d talk allll about it, but in an effort to reduce the amount of words I type each day to around 500,000 or less, I will not introduce or explain this video except to say it is one of many that will be featured here in the coming year and that it will be followed up in a couple days with Episode 2. Which will be a counterpart. An addendum. A flipside referendum. An alternate rendering of this seminal communication. A bit more of a linear explanation.

The XOLAGRAFIK Diaries [ep1: “Cambiando”] from nezua on Vimeo.

YouTube here.


Call for Video/Audio Submissions

December 27th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

I AM BACKDATING this post so that it doesn’t bump Episode 1 of my vlog series (The XOLAGRAFIK Diaries) from the front page of my blog. But I want to post this in a place that gets more eyes than my Twitter accounts.

Back to the vlog. I am working on Episode #2 as we speak. But for Episode #3, I am crafting a piece on the Israel/Gaza situation.

For this, I am putting out an open call for your webcam/video (or audio) submissions/additions/contributions. In the vlog, I want to feature clips where you give your statement/feelings on the bombings/situation. I will show your URL/blog/sitename. If you want to send audio instead, that’s fine. Please, if you send audio, also grab a still image of yourself or a screenshot of your blog/site for me to feature while the audio plays.

About 1 – 3 minutes ten seconds is what I’m looking for. UPDATE: It was a bad idea to limit people at the start. That’s like asking a writer to edit themselves. It’s not a good idea for a few reasons. Better for me to have more options as an editor, anyway, than less. You just spill what you feel is important. I know we can talk forever on this topic, but if I’m going to use a handful of different voices, I need to keep each piece short. Plus I’m looking for a certain shape to use (tho I can do a lot of this in editing). Hmmm. Maybe think of your one broad statement on it. Say, if you had to paint a poster, or a picket sign, or carve something on a wall or write it on a postcard with a dull pencil.

If you want to send 30 seconds and leave it to me to chop what I need out, that’s cool. But please dont talk for ten minutes or even five, because that would be too much to pore through. I will develop a system for this in time, including ftp access etc, so it will go smoother. But this is a new thing, so hang tight while we feel it all out.

As Episode 2 is already mostly shaped and being edited now, you do have a few days before I even begin Episode 3. But please get in touch by tomorrow so we can assure that I have the media in my hands by the weekend (Jan 3rd and 4th). Feel free to pass this on, or let your amig@s know about the call.

Notes: I want to keep the good parts of my blogging experience intact. Such as the interplay/dialogues we all share. So in my new format this will be my way of doing that…or sometimes I may respond to things blogs are saying, and will feature them anyway. But for this, I’d love to have your direct statements to use. Another note is I may or may not use your clip; I may use a piece of it only, I may divorce the vid from the sound for a part or all of the clip…in other words, I will edit/tweak/use the material you send in a way that fits the entire piece best. You can view my past work to gauge your comfort level in my ability to do this. Gracias.


¡Feliz Navidad! and Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2008 § 7 comments § permalink

HERE’S A LITTLE SOMETHING I COOKED UP for you, my dear readers, on this day. Happy Merry Feliz to all of you!

and for those on iPhones or otherwise unable to access vimeo,


Weekly Immigration Wire: From Brooklyn Streets to Hollywood Blvd, Responses to Growing Tension

December 18th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

By Nezua
Media Consortium Mediawire Blogger

We are living in unsure times, filled with drastic transitions that shift our perspectives from day to day. In one sense, immigration is about groups of people shifting in size and moving from place to place. It is also about the formation of new groups, how we live through the transitions, and who we are on the other side. For this week’s Immigration Wire, I’d like to look at how different social groups are dealing with issues related to immigration—and all of its accompanying cultural shifts.

There is much talk, still, of Jose O. Sucuzhañay, the Ecuadorean immigrant who was killed by a homophobe in Brooklyn. ColorLine’s RaceWire blog reminds us that Sucuzhañay is the fourth (reported North Eastern) Latino hate crime victim since July, and Jonathan Adams reports on how Jose’s family is coping in Vigil in Brooklyn for Jose Sucuzhañay:

The victim’s family is reaching out to the public to bring the hateful attackers to justice. Diego Sucuzhañay says, “It shows how far we must still come to address the devastating problem of hate crimes in our communities. Only by exposing these crimes and working together will we be able to make a difference.”

Hundreds of Brooklynites marched to support the Sucuzhañay family, and to “condemn the recent anti-immigrant and homophobic hate crimes.” Over 16 organizations were represented at the march, as reported by New America Media in New Yorkers March Against Hate Crimes.

In The Good, the Bad, and the Promotor, New America Media examines one solution for migra-related tensions: Lucha Libre!

Mexicans love a good fight, or at least seeing one.

And when it reflects a social reality, like pitting them against the U.S. Border Patrol, the seats are going to be sold out.

Gabriel Ramirez, owner and founder of the independent wrestling promotion Pro Wrestling Revolution has taken advantage of this, presenting as his most popular attraction a wrestling match between Mexican legends of lucha libre and American wrestlers who are dressed as Border Patrol agents.

The Good, the Bad, and the Promoter from New America Media on Vimeo.

On the topic of entertainment and the Latino community, Nothing Like the Holidays, a major studio release focused on a Puerto Rican family, is out just in time for Navidad (Christmas). RaceWire features the trailer in Dreaming of a Latino Holiday?

Film production houses aren’t the only ones profiting from our changing national demographics. In an upsetting find, Products Marketed to Latinos Can Be More Expensive, New America Media reveals that some retail outlets are taking advantage of their customers.

Also a sign of changing times and relationships, Latin American leaders held a summit in Brazil to “discuss a post-U.S. hegemonic world.” They met to discuss the global economic crisis and Latin America’s growing independence from “the empire” of the United States. Among them were Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, and Bolivia’s Evo Morales. From Truthdig’s Latin Leaders Rebuke U.S.:

The talks, which centered on the “demise” of the capitalist model, also snubbed former colonizing nations Portugal and Spain in a further demonstration of the increasing political autonomy of the region.

And in health-related news, Asian American Donor Program (AADP) Executive director Carol Gillespie put out a call for multi-ethnic and mixed-race heritage people to “step forward and volunteer to become [bone marrow] donors” in New America Media’s Asian American Bone Marrow Donor Program Expands to Include Latinos. The article touches on the difficulty in getting much of the Latino community to register and participate and directly addresses the community’s fears of giving out their personal information.

This week’s collection of stories can be broken down in a few ways. Over here, you have people working together to overcome changes that scare just about everyone. And over there, people are taking advantage of the fear that often accompanies these changes. In this season of giving and love and familia, may you and yours be surrounded by those who fight with and for you.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.

Also featured at Huffington Post,Talking Points Memo, Open Salon, DailyKos, MyDD, Open Left, FDL.


Los Tres Chavalitos y Santo Claus

December 16th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

AND NOW IT’S TIME for a favorite Christmas tale, foo’! Originally posted way back in the days it was on YouTube, we lost this little gem for a while. Then one day I was going through my back pages and found it was broken, so I emailed a friend who emailed his friend (who had made it) and we got it back up online! Whew!

And now, without further drama or holdup, I bring you Los Tres Chavalitos y Santo Claus.


Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 13th, 2008 § 8 comments § permalink


YESTERDAY WAS A DAY THAT MANY recognized and celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One of the earliest icons in my memory is La Virgen de Guadalupe. There is no Catholicism in my life, there was no Church. There was no Mary. There was little cultura de México, and what there was was not there for too long. There was always my name. For a while there was corn, and chiles, and there were handmade tortillas, and there were piñatas. And there was Guadalupe. I remember her image laid on a cut slice of wood and varnished over. I remember her looking down from the wall. And I remember how kind she felt to me…with her gold, and her aqua, and her eyes. How…good. I really knew nothing of her and yet for years I carried her image in my mind.

Decades later, when I saw her again, her image was like a homing beacon. One that pointed toward a special part of my past, one where I could go and where no one could follow me. A good, pure place that always remains.


Weekly Immigration Wire: Harvesting Hate in Hard Economic Times

December 11th, 2008 § 4 comments § permalink

Weekly Immigration Wire: Harvesting Hate in Hard Economic Times
By Nezua, Media Consortium MediaWire Blogger

Hate does not emerge in a vacuum writes the editorial staff of El Diario/La Prensa [translated by New America Media]. Nor could it thrive there, we might add. While many collude to bring about positive change, they face opposition from others who have coalesced to propagate negativity on a large scale.

As of late, it is the Latino community catching the hate that has been unleashed upon the immigrant community. El Diaro/La Prensa gives the gruesome details:

In July, Luis Ramirez was beaten to death by a gang in Shenandoah, Pa. In August, a Staten Island man rammed his vehicle into the storefronts of three Latino merchants. Last month, a gang hunted and stabbed Marcelo Lucero to death in Patchogue, Long Island. This list of hate attacks has now grown with the brutal beating of yet another Latino immigrant, according to an editorial in El Diario/La Prensa.

Jose Sucuzhanay, a Bushwick business owner, was with his brother Romel on Sunday when he was beaten by a group of men using a bat. He was reportedly declared brain dead yesterday. Romel had come from Ecuador to visit his brother, not bury him.

Witnesses heard the cowardly attackers shout anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs at the brothers, according to police. They mistook Jose and Romel cozying up in the extreme cold as a sign that they were gay.

The article goes on to document the soaring statistics of hate crimes against Latinos and Hispanics (even underreported, they have increased 40 percent since 2003, with over 60 percent of all bias/ethnicity/race/hate crimes being against Hispanics) and lays the blame unflinchingly on a “hostile anti-immigrant campaign targeting Latinos.”

Where is all this hate coming from? Duke of The Sanctuary gives a firsthand account of another group fanning the flames of violence now eating away at our communities in the info-packed article Hearts of Darkness: A Journey Into the Nativist Lair. To write it, Duke phoned in to join a press conference hosted by the anti-immigration group The Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which was led by FAIR President, Dan Stein. The purpose of the call was to discuss “the implications of the recent elections and (their) agenda for immigration reform in the 111th Congress.”

As we’ve come to expect from far-right ideologues, Stein opened up his presentation with a statement intended to stir up maximum resentment and fear. He spoke at length about the changing political climate due to economic instability and how only strict enforcement and severe limiting of all new immigration would be accepted by the American people.

Against this backdrop of economic uncertainty, he couldn’t resist the temptation to blame the nation’s entire economic collapse on “illegal aliens” and their allies who managed to force well-meaning bankers into giving them mortgages they had no intention of ever paying… [.]

The article proceeds to destroy a slew of Stein’s anti-immigrant talking points (including blaming the immigrant community for the economy) with links, facts, and a true bewilderment that Stein can live in a “reality of his own making.”

Attacking minority or immigrant communities (and specifically the Latino community, as we saw with the California Apology Act of the 1930s) during times of economic downturn is hardly a new mistake. Carl Ginsburg at Air America tackles the vile idea that we ought to blame blacks and Latinos for the collapse of the economy in The Sting: A Matter of Honor.

The ugly details of America’s Great Credit Scam of 2008 continue to surface, including what amounts to a colossal transfer of money from minority communities to rich investors.

The so-called “Race Tax” involved African Americans, Hispanics and Native American with incomes and credit scores on par with whites who were up-sold costlier, high interest mortgages. Recent studies reveal that more than half of blacks were sold subprime loans when cheaper loans were merited.

Media attention continues to be focused on borrowers and the lack of personal responsibility they employed in taking on mortgages. Against the backdrop of the Race Tax, one can now see that the fraud that was so pervasive in the ranks of the mortgage industry sales force–and the resultant rate gouging–played a big role in the foreclosure pandemic in America today.

Even back in early November, Public News Service broke down the hard truth that so many anti-immigrant factions never seem to grasp: you cannot separate immigrants from the US. We are all one and the same. In Advocates Push the “Dollars and Sense” of Immigration Reform, Michael Clifford details the national “compact for racial justice”:

“In New York City, 40 percent of all restaurant workers are undocumented and 70 percent are foreign-born. Without immigrants, the industry would just shut down. This is one of the few industries that’s somewhat strong and stable through this economic crisis.” [Saru Jayaraman, co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United]

More than 100 New Yorkers who are concerned about immigration reform are in California today to sign onto a national “compact for racial justice.” Among them is Rinku Sen, author of the The Accidental American and executive director of the Applied Research Center, the compact’s host. [S]he says the compact makes the case that the nation cannot escape its biggest problems unless it includes the foreign-born in the solution.

Exploring the opposite approach, one of blatant divisiveness and persecution, Joshua Hoyt at AlterNet chronicles the revealing backstory of how the Republican party lost the Latino/Hispanic vote in GOP Going Full-Throttle on the Wrong Track for Latinos:

In December 2005, Dennis Hastert, then House speaker, pandering to the hard right of the GOP, allowed Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) to push through the House a truly draconian piece of legislation that would have turned all undocumented immigrants and the priests and nuns who serve them into felons.

The Sensenbrenner legislation triggered the historic immigrant marches in the spring of 2006, where millions chanted, tellingly, “Today we march; tomorrow we vote!” Nativist-haters and talk-radio demagogues who don’t like to “Press 1 for English” mobilized their cultural conservative base, and cynics in the Republican Party thought they had a beautiful little “wedge” issue. They would paint Democrats as pandering to Mexican-Americans by supporting “amnesty for lawbreakers.” Republican tax activist Grover Norquist warned of the consequences, saying, “We can’t afford to do to the Hispanics what we did to the Roman Catholics in the late 19th Century: tell them we don’t like them and lose their vote for a hundred years.”

Ignoring his warning, the Republican National Committee covered the nation during the 2006 elections with mailers and TV commercials painting the Democrats as soft on illegal Immigration, to no avail. The GOP lost the House and Senate, and many anti-immigrant hard-liners were defeated.

Many hands come together in a democratic process, and the idea is we collectively decide upon the party that best represents the People. If you believe in this democratic process, then humane immigration reform apparently has a mandate today.

A striking and iconic example of someone hired to enforce the law and yet subverting it at the same time is that of Lorraine Henderson, the Boston area director of Homeland Security, Customs, and Border Protection who was arrested for employing undocumented workers.

Henderson is responsible for stopping illegal aliens from entering the country through the Port of Boston.

But according to an affidavit, for several years Henderson employed a Brazilian housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant. She also allegedly hired two other illegal immigrants, even after fellow agents warned her it was against the law.

And continuing the pattern of leveling the power of the law in such egregiously asymmetrical fashion, an in-depth article by Jennifer Lee Koh titled Immigrant Rights Signed Away? tells the unhappy story of yet another Bush administration legal feat. Once again, due process is dragged out of the equation and in its wake, over 100,000 people (so far) detained and immediately removed from the country through a process called Stipulated Removal.

Here’s how stipulated removal works: Government officials present immigrants with a stipulated removal order. If immigrants sign the paper, then the government can issue a removal order against them. Once the government convinces them to sign the stipulated order, they give up their right to go before an immigration judge and have a hearing. Even if the law could give them a chance to stay here legally (for example, if they have U.S. citizen family members, face persecution in their home country, or are victims of a crime), the government can still send them back. After they are removed, they are barred from returning for 10 years, if they would otherwise have a legal way of doing coming back. And they face serious penalties (including criminal prosecution) if they do re-enter. No judge ever explains these things to the immigrants.

There is great danger in continuing along this path of unwarranted and unchecked persecution of such a large part of such a large nation. If the shape of Web 2.0, the success of open source software, the might of Barack Obama’s grassroots campaign, and the reality of the new global world we live in has taught us anything, it is that everything is interconnected, and our strengths lie in working together. So if we want our hope for the future to be more than campaign lettering, we have to remember to live by a much older slogan: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

Featured at MyDD.com, DailyKos, FireDogLake, Huffington Post, The Media Consortium, Talking Points Memo, Open Left, Open.Salon.com, and elsewhere.


NY/NJ Spanish Language ICE Raid Rapid Response HOTLINE

December 11th, 2008 § 0 comments § permalink

ALLIES IN NEW YORK and New Jersey are doing their best to get a hotline number spread far and wide on local Spanish language radio stations. They are especially interested in placing this information on WPAT, WSKQ, WCAA and WADO. Do you have any connections or ability to help them do this? If so, please take note of the post below. And I’m sure any other way of getting this number into the immigrant community in the tri-states area would be extremely valuable to many people, as ICE would love to bypass as many laws and rights as possible and people who are uninformed are too easy to victimize. So if you know peeps, write a blog that might reach them, pass by bulletin boards…etc… Please help get the number out there.


The NJ-NY Rapid Response Network Hotline is working to prevent detentions and deportations. We have stopped raids from leading to detentions. The press release that announced our Hotline in March is attached for your information. But we need help to get the word out to a million immigrants in the New York and New Jersey region. We need to keep the number in the public mind until everyone knows it.

We would like Spanish-language radio and TV stations to run announcements about the Hotline as public service announcements periodically. Our suggested PSAs in English and Spanish are below.

“If immigration—ICE—agents come to your door or you see them in your neighborhood, call 800-308-0878, the Rapid Response Network Hotline! A Spanish speaker is available 24 hours to tell you your rights. You have the right to remain silent! If you know your rights, you can prevent detention and deportation. This number is for emergencies only—don’t call it at other times. Have this number with you always: 800-308-0878 to know your rights and protect yourself and your loved ones.”

“Si los agentes de inmigración vienen a tu puerta o tu ves a ellos en tu vecindario? llama de inmediato a la linea caliente de Respuesta Rápida gratis desde cualquier teléfono 1-800-308-0878 hay un representante que habla español disponible las 24 horas para decirte cuales son tus derechos: Tienes el derecho bajo Ley de quedarte en silencio, sin contestar ninguna pregunta que te hacen los Oficiales de Inmigración. Si tu sabes tus Derechos puedes prevenir detenciones y deportaciones. Este numero antes mencionado es solo para emergencias solamente. Mantener este numero siempre contigo para que sepas tus derechos, te protejas tu mismo y a tus seres queridos.”

If your station can run this PSA, please contact us, or tell us of other contacts who might help with this. Thanks for your help,

UPDATE: I’m going to add this here because it’s heartening. Just came into my inbox, and it is specifically about this hotline I’ve posted above, and from a Rapid Response worker:

This morning at 6:30am I received a call from a man in Queens who had, on his own, foiled an ICE raid. After refusing to open his door when they knocked, he called the hotline because he was fearful to leave his home. Though he couldn’t see any ICE agents, he did notice two suspicious vehicles outside his home. I told him he was within his rights to refuse to let ICE into his home. I also explained that if he should see any ICE agents when he leaves his home, he has the right to tell them that he doesn’t wish to speak with them and that they should contact his lawyer. […]

I returned his call, and explained to him that we could send one or two people to his home to escort him out of his house. He said that he did not yet need that service because he decided to keep his children home from school today, and they were his main concern. I encouraged him to call back if he had another emergency, and reminded him that if ICE approaches him he is within his rights to refuse to answer any questions. He responded by asking if they would take him in. I said that, although they aren’t supposed to, they might, but they would take him in if he answered questions anyway. I then pointed out that they would eventually have to release him if they didn’t have anything to work with. He then thanked me, and said that he felt much better now.


International Human Rights Day

December 10th, 2008 § 7 comments § permalink

I HAVEN’T SLEPT SO WELL in the past few days as I’ve been both sick and also have helped deliver my newest hija, and I’d be conserving all my energy in bed now but for the fact that I really do want to highlight a couple things now. I’ll be uncharacteristically pithy and save what juice I have for writing this week’s TMC Immigration Wire post later on.

Firstly, today is the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. What image opened your eyes to human rights?

Today is International Human Rights Day, and all my posts today will focus on the issue of human rights in Latin America and within the Latino community in the United States.

To kick things off, let’s look at Plan Mexico aka the Merida Initiative which would allow the U.S. intervention via so called “anti-drug” aid which really would, as shown in Colombia, serve to suppress and oppress grassroots movements, especially Indigenous movements.

—Vivirlatino.com, International Human Rights Day and Plan Mexico

Also definitely worth taking note of today is yet one more vile and sleazy move by the sickest imitation of a human being I’ve yet seen (Gorge W. Bush) as he attempts to slither out of his (illegitimate) White House role. Said sleazebag Bush administration attempts to tear an even bigger hole in our society by slashing worker protection and wages from farmworkers. You know, because who cares where we get our food, right?

The long anticipated regulation changes to slash wages and reduce worker protections under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program are out. The changes, proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were revealed on the DOL website late Monday evening but have not yet been officially published in the Federal Register.

The changes are horrible. At a time when the jobless rate is at a 15 year high, they reduce obligations for growers to effectively recruit U.S. workers before applying to bring in guestworkers for these jobs. They lower the wage rates for all farmworkers by changing the program’s wage formula and, in an industry known for labor abuses, they eliminate or reduce government oversight.

This parting gift on behalf of the Bush Administration to our nation’s farmworkers is irresponsible and completely unacceptable. The H-2A guestworker program is already rife with abuse. These changes will only make a bad program worse. That’s why today, Farmworker Justice is releasing a special report, [pdf] Litany of Abuses: Why more -not fewer-labor protections are needed in the H-2A program.

Final Regulations Changes to H-2A Guestworker Program Are Out

As Farmworker Justice puts it, over at The Sanctuary,

These will be the most far-reaching changes in the laws regulating agricultural guestworker programs since 1942. They will return us to an era of agricultural labor exploitation that many thought ended decades ago.

The changes cut wage rates and wage protections for both domestic and foreign workers, minimize recruitment obligations inside the U.S. and curtail or eliminate much of the government oversight that is supposed to deter and remedy illegal employer conduct.

bush’s midnight attack on farmworkers

That naïve part of my brain (and it is a persistent and not negligible sector) always demands to know why people would be so stupid…so cruel. Its tough to find an answer aside from the class war that people like Bush put so much energy into. (Although it still makes no sense to harm the agricultural process that feeds us all…) People like smeg-head Bush have the money and means to hop over all the chasms and spills that their greedy and heartless policies create; all the rifts that such “governing” rips open in the everyday terrain of life.

Eh. Either that, or he’s just evil incarnate. I don’t know. But I guess either way, it’s up to the rest of us to live sensibly and take care of each other.

Peace to you and yours this day.


Latino/a Writers, Bloggers, Reviewers Wanted

December 9th, 2008 § 3 comments § permalink

DO YOU BLOG ON LATINO ISSUES regularly? Are you a literary sort? Do you enjoy history? Are you Mexican@ and English speaking and prone to reading billions of books? Dig: The latest book I’ve illustrated could benefit from a few more reviewers who are willing to post on the book or otherwise trade a review copy for some publicity etc, you know how it goes. It’s called Gods, Gachipines, and Gringos and it is a History of Mexico written in English. Rather than try to sum it up any more myself I’ll point you here.

Interested? Email me with your story/situation. Gracias.

December 16, 2008 UPDATE: This offer is now closed. gracias all!


¿Cómo se llama usted?

December 8th, 2008 § 15 comments § permalink

IMAGINE that it is my job to help choose a name for a baby that was due to be born yesterday and may be born today…or tomorrow. Or the next day. (Though today is a very real possibility so don’t hesitate!) Now, of course I’m going through my books and I may find the answer there. I’ve thought a few over, but nothing is decided. And after all, maybe you will have an idea that will seem just right when I read it.

SO! In the comments please offer one or more names for a baby boy. Offer as many names as you want. But please also note why you like it, where you heard it, what it means, and anything else you think is relevant.

Spanish and Nahuatl names are preferred.

update 15:55 PST, -8 GMT: phone call informs me that labor has begun, so i’m off for a bit.


Chicago Workers Demonstrate Power of the Takeover Strike

December 7th, 2008 § 11 comments § permalink

IT’S A BIT INFURIATING to see the same old dynamics play out in the country, especially with a brand new set of circumstances. That is to say, the top dogs get away with murder and the little gals and guys take the blame and get the shaft. So it was with a Chicago factory and its workers until they decided to get all united about things and flip the script, 1930s solidarity style:

Chicago – Workers who got three days’ notice their factory was shutting its doors voted to occupy the building and say they won’t go home without assurances they’ll get severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.

    In the second day of a sit-in on the factory floor Saturday, about 200 union workers occupied the building in shifts while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind.

    About 50 workers sat on pallets and chairs inside the Republic Windows and Doors plant. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting down.

    During the takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

    “We’re doing something we haven’t since the 1930s, so we’re trying to make it work,” Fried said.

    Organizers of the action said the company can’t pay employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won’t let them. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Republic Windows’ monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had “no choice but to shut our doors.”

    Bank of America received $25 billion from the government’s financial bailout package.

    “Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame,” said Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743. “If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country.”

    Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, “You got bailed out, we got sold out.”

Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago


Wild stuff! The story has developed quickly over the day. So much so that a single NYTimes link kept changing their entire page, headline and all (Is this the norm now? Are we total Memory Hole style now?) Here’s copy from the first iteration:


Workers were angered when company officials didn’t show up for a meeting Friday that had been arranged by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, Fried said. Union officials said another meeting with the company is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

”We’re going to stay here until we win justice,” said Blanca Funes, 55, of Chicago, after occupying the building for several hours. Speaking in Spanish, Funes said she fears losing her home without the wages she feels she’s owed. A 13-year employee of Republic, she estimated her family can make do for three months without her paycheck. Most of the factory’s workers are Hispanic.


Oddly, when I went back to check later, it had completely changed to this [click for full size to pop up in new window]:


And the current version gives us this encouraging news:


CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago workers in the third day of a sit-in on the floor of their former workplace peered through the windows of a door Sunday, amazed by a mix of supporters, politicians and journalists who packed a foyer outside.

”We never expected this,” said Melvin Maclin, a factory employee and vice president of the local union that represents the workers. ”We expected to go to jail.”

The 200 workers demanding severance and vacation pay have become a national symbol for thousands of employees laid off nationwide as the economy continues to sour. They occupied the plant of their former employer, Republic Windows and Doors, after the company abruptly fired them last week.

At a news conference Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama said Republic should follow through on its commitments to its workers.

”The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy,” Obama said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered turkeys to the workers, pledging the support of his Chicago-based civil rights group, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

”These workers deserve their wages, deserve fair notice, deserve health security,” Jackson said. ”This may be the beginning of long struggle of worker resistance finally.”

Chicago Workers’ Sit-In Becomes Rallying Point


Go read before they change it again!

Anyway, yes. I think it should be and hope it is the beginning of a united worker resistance. Enough of the proles sweating so that the fatcats can buy house number nine and then tell us, gee, they don’t know what happened to the money. At least we need a united worker resistance here in the modern day USA. La Mala and I were just talking this morning about how this type of strike has long been a function of Latin American worker solidarity. Occupying schools and workplaces when injustice is doled out. We’ve seen it from Puerto Rico to México, from Tlaltelolco to Oaxaca. And yes, sometimes the State chooses to mow you down or starve you out. And thus, even in the face of those risks, some choose to stand up (or sit down) for what is right. Which is why I’ve written often about my pride in Mexican@s and how they understand the power of putting your body where your beliefs are.

But ya better keep that last part quiet! As quiet as erasing the words ‘most of the factory’s workers are Hispanic’ from the story…



Thanks to Democommie for the headsup, as well as the info here. Foto from here.


How to Conceal Your Stash (& Catch Crooked Cops on Camera)

December 7th, 2008 § 4 comments § permalink

THIS IS JUST HILARIOUS. It’s a video shot by an ex-drug cop Barry Cooper, who has a new reality show wherein he catches cops with lawbreaking tendencies, and on video. The show is ‘KopBusters,’ “a ‘To Catch A Predator’ style crusade against dirty officers,” as Raw Story puts it: [my FLIR link]

“KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

“The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.

“The attorney was handcuffed and later released when eleven KopBuster detectives arrived with the media in tow to question the illegal raid. The police refused to give KopBusters the search warrant affidavit which is suspected to contain the lies regarding the probable cause.”



I like watching them with their little cell phones, snapping pictures in the sheepish silence to regain some sense of control.

And I like this show. And it is delicious. As is Cooper’s cause. Why? Because more than a few times a cop has stolen my rights by saying “I smell marijuana” or some other bullshit as they force themselves into my pockets or force me out of my car to stand lit up and shoeless on the street as everyone drives by with strange armed men going through all my belongings and it’s a lie. And they know it and I know it. They only “smelled marijuana” because of my car or my ink or my name or my looks. And the only thing letting them push me around is that they have a gun in their hand and the State backing up their crooked behavior, and I have nothing.

Except my laughter. Hear it ringing out! 

And now, “Welcome to the Conceal Your Stash portion of this DVD.” (I love this cat!)


“The point is, be creative”


The (Laughable) Times They Live In

December 7th, 2008 § 11 comments § permalink

IT WOULDNT BE WORTH MY TIME to highlight yet one more slanderous, lazy, slimy, fictionalized piece of anti-Mexican propaganda but for the fact that it comes at such an egregious time and under such a prestigious banner. Today, when countless families are suffering behind anti-Mexican racism, in a time when deaths are piling up on the border and our nation is in desperate need for intelligent and humane immigration talk, and non-hypocritical government, we get mierda like this from the timesonline.com TRAVEL section:

Mexico is a great big beautiful country. But not near the border with California. Here, it’s a dirty, tawdry stinkpot, infested with partying Americans and unscrupulous Mexicans who will provide anything for them. It’s a place where morals don’t seem to count and anything goes. At least, that’s what I hoped as I headed across the border on a bus, in the first days of my long student holiday.

At dusk, I reached Ensenada, a town about 75 miles south of the border, threw my bags in a friendly hotel and walked across the dirt road to the nearest bar.

There was a woman standing just inside the door, so I said hello politely. She lifted her top, showed me her breasts and asked how much I was prepared to pay for a good time. This was a bit more than I had expected. I was only saying hello.

Confessions of a Tourist: everything goes down Mexico way; No money, no morals, but Cael Weedon still had his pride – for now

grafik by NezuaYou get the point. Firstly, it is written under a pseudonym. Secondly, the hit piece polishes up every single disgusting stereotype you can fish out of your bag of 1940’s anti-greaser bag (bad water, amorality, two-dimensional women here for our amusement and sexual engagement, thieves, drunkenness…). Thirdly, it’s just inaccurate. As a blogmigo spit out right away “the cantina district of ensenada doesn’t have dirt roads, it’s all cobblestone/colonial design..”

The cowardly “Cael Weedon” hides behind not only a pseudonym, but one insincere opening sentence: “Mexico is a great big beautiful country.” And then launches into the sleaziest piece of “journalism” I’ve read in quite a long time. In fact, it’s not even Journalism. It’s made up. It doesn’t ring true at all.

Up against a wall at the back of the bar, we started to make hot Mexican love. We started, but we never finished. Something I’d drunk (perhaps everything I’d drunk) disagreed with me, and what began as a rumble in my tummy turned into a violent, volcanic rush. I was sick all over myself, narrowly missing my Spanish lady. Even down Mexico way, some things are beyond acceptable – as I crouched in the alley, my last memory of my lady was her leaving in a hurry, pulling up her knickers as she went inside.

I staggered back to the hotel and flopped onto my bed. For about a minute. Then I had to get up, stagger to the bathroom and carry on. For two hours. Empty and exhausted, I finally got back to my bed and slept, on and off, for 48 hours.

The final insult came when I went to check out on Monday morning, after being rescued by a money transfer. The friendly hotel manager turned out to be a little too friendly. He told me that he hoped I didn’t mind, but while I’d been sprawled there stark naked on the bed, he’d been watching me through my window. Anything goes is fine in theory, but not when it’s your wallet, pride and dignity that are heading south. I grabbed my stuff and headed north.

Yeah. It reads like some disgusting romance novel meant to invoke the amorous repulsion of ignorant USers.

And the takeaway message is that South of the border is where you go for disgusting, vile lewd experiences, amorality, loose women, and illegality, and North of the border is for pride. Dignity. Law. (And gringo college students who need to get it all out once in a while.)

What a joke.

grafik by NezuaAnd I’d let the joke go, see, because I’m used to hearing this view. Be it subtle or blatant, this is the view of Mexico from most of the USA (and clearly, some of the UK, too). Even from “good” people. I am thinking now of one person last year I talked to about wanting to move to Mexico in time and this intelligent, kind, progressive person was worried about…well. All the things you’d imagine if you read only English language “news” “about” Mexico (some English Lang sources are good but not most). Or watched most US movies on Mexicans. And so on. And it’s not so much about them as a person. It’s about the strong tide of anti-Indian propaganda this nation has long employed and has needed to, to continue the occupation and continued theft of indigenous land and resources.

To talk about this chaotic and criminalized and militarized and exploited area of Mexico-meets-USA, la frontera—but to leave out the causes and simply riff on old hateful stereotypes is more than stupid and lazy. It’s criminally negligent work as a journalist.

“Articles” like this are the virtual equivalent of gasses escaping the bloated carcass of yesterday’s ignorance.

Have a problem with the timesonline.com portrayal of the border issue, Latinas, or Mexico in this sensitive and transitional time we are living in? Tell them how you feel.


Weekend Música – Oppression

December 6th, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE I stop by the little video I slapped together in October of 2006 called Ben Harper’s Oppression, A Xicano Interpretation. It’s just a montage of images I edited over the fantastic song by the same name, and as I didn’t think of it really as an actual filmmaking effort (not even as much as something tiny like  Luna Watches President-Elect Obama’s First Presser) I had no idea it would get the traffic it ended up getting. Nor did I know I’d end up with multiple schools writing me and wanting to use the video to approach or teach certain ideas to their classes. (I’ve always complied and for free, of course, as it’s not my song, and I love to help in these cases, anyway.) This dynamic of doing what you love, for no other gain, and watching unexpected fruit flower from it also played out with my blog (and I’m sure many blogs) as I wrote on the other day.

Because I made this video a few months after creating UMX, and right when it began to bloom, it has always felt emblematic of my first engaging the issues I do and in this nifty Web 2.0 way that we do out here in the blogarrio. I post it now as a sort of mini-celebration because I realized today the view counter broke the 50,000 mark! Whoa! How cool is that?

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