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Signs of the Times, A Group Blog

January 31st, 2009 § 8 comments § permalink


I’VE SETUP A GROUP BLOG where anyone can join as an Author. It’s called Signs of the Times, and its purpose is simply to collect short, simple anecdotal stories, jottings, blurbs, fotos, fears, thoughts, hopes, sightings, single sentences (or more) that you see as symptoms of the collapsing economy. After all, these are the things we remember and pass down to our children and to history and hold as memory. Just like the stories we still retell now, told to us, about what people did and suffered through in the first (Great) Depression. These are the details that make sense to us as we live our days. It’s the personal stories that bring it on home and connect us. And I think its a good idea to begin connecting right now. 

I’m the admin but I won’t be policing anyone regularly. We’re all grownups. I still need to hook it into Technorati and do some blogroll plugin and a few artistic touches, tighten up Rules and About page, etc, final touches type stuff, but its ready to go and I’ve already laid down a few entries which can be seen as an example if you want. Low pressure blogging here. No shiny polish needed, no requirement to underline deep points, no superstar flourish. Just stories about your ‘hood, your street, your workplace, your family, your health, your job prospects, changes in your budget, or your neighbors’ or your fridge, or your spending…you get the point. Something strikes you, run to the blog and write it. See something on the way downtown that you never saw before and points out how bad things are getting? Drop in and write a few sentences. Everything is front page, all writers are equal. 

And though it is meant to chronicle the downturn, it’s not about moping or ending up stuck in fear or gloom. The joy will be seeing stories from all over the nation (or the world?) and knowing we’re in it together. I do keep a hope that perhaps the blog can shift in time to (or develop an area for) helping people in need, be it you or he or she, but if so, it will be a natural progression, not forced. 

So please, if this interests you, spread the word and join up. Peace.



[slider title=”Note 1“] “Weaponhead” is a character I’ve drawn and created and sketched out a couple stories for. He was to be my followup character to my first books written and published for children. But then the publishing company reneged on everyone from printing houses to freelancers to regular employees to authors. So the site has been dormant, and I run so many blogs on my main site(s) that I thought I’d install the blog at weaponhead.net.[/slider]

[slider title=”Note 2“] No, I never sleep.[/slider]

Weekly Immigration Wire: A Cry for Change from Coast to Coast

January 29th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

crossposted from my paid gig with TMC

by Nezua, Media Consortium Blogger

All over the nation, communities are clamoring to be heard. In this worsening economic landscape, migrant communities are being terrorized by violent raids, families are destabilized, wage earners are jailed or detained, and xenophobic pundits continue to fuel a rising wave of hate crimes against Latinos. The stakes could not be any higher: Now is the time to make our voices heard, especially after being ignored for so long by those with the power to make a difference.

And so we are gathering in numbers in San Francisco and throughout California:

A coalition of groups that has been working with San Francisco’s supervisors, community leaders, social service providers, and faith groups is gathering at City Hall to call for a halt to the raids and for support of fair and humane immigration reform. We will be joining our voices with thousands of others across California and across our country who found hope in the words of our new President Barack Obama during his inauguration speech […]

Choosing Hope Over Fear in Immigration Policy Reform, New America Media, Jan. 21, 2009

And on the same day, marching on Washington, DC (with photos):

Over a thousand people are gathered in DC, a day after inaugurating our new president, to demand A New Day for Immigration.

Immigrants March for Reform in DC, RaceWire, Jan. 21, 2009

Sending letters from Albequerque, New Mexico:

[C]oncerned New Mexico groups are among thousands of people signed on to a letter to President Obama asking for drastic alterations [in U.S. immigration enforcement policy]. Jo Ann Gutierrez Bejar with the Southwest Organizing Project says even families in Albuquerque neighborhoods feel intimidated by the presence of the Border Patrol.

NM Groups Push Obama for Immigration Change: “End Worker Raids Now“, Public News Service, January 28, 2009

Immigrant rights groups are organizing across the nation:

On January 27, the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights will be releasing an “Open Letter to President Barack Obama” to establish a new framework for addressing immigration policy. You can help by circulating it to your friends and by signing the petition[.]

Time to Take Action towards Humane and Sane Immigration Policies, RaceWire

Suing President Obama for relief in Miami, Florida:

The lawyers for over 600 American born children filed a lawsuit against President Obama to suspend the deportation of their undocumented parents until there is immigration law reform.

U.S. Born Children of Undocumented Parents Sue Obama, New America Media, January 28, 2009

And starting a 100-day Countdown Clock in Arizona:

Arizona activists rallied in Tucson yesterday urging President Obama to keep his campaign promise to address immigration reform in his first 100 days on the job. Immigration rights organization Border Action Network wants a plan that respects human rights and preserves families[…]

100-Day Countdown Clock Started for Obama Border Reform, Public News Service, January 22, 2009

In essence,

The American people want real solutions, not divisive rhetoric. The new administration and new Congress hold great promise for progress on immigration reform. Now it is up to people of conscience to hold our elected representatives accountable and demand immigration reform that benefits the American people, America’s economic and homeland security, and moves us towards a new era of recognizing that immigration is not a source of weakness for America, it is a sign of our strength.

Immigration Reform: Yes We Can?, New America Media, January 27, 2009

In the absence of national leadership, we end up with law enforcement so devoid of ethical guidance that it declares racial profiling an “important tool” and propaganda television that omits the horrors of the standing system. The fact is, fearful rhetoric has taken over what could be a sane dialogue and we are all suffering for it. Higher walls are not the solution. Letting our fellow humans move into caves is not the answer. And politicians who think only in terms of punishment and speak divisively will get us nowhere.

The People have spoken. And are speaking. And we will continue speak. Until we are heard.

At the Movies With Nezua: BSG Breakdown, Season 2

January 28th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

LET’S GO TO THE XOLAGRAFIK THEATER! This week in At the Movies With Nezua I present part A of a breakdown of Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica, using the last four episodes as examples. Last week was a focused look on the Cylon character specifically, and how that relates to racist/misogynist icons and ideas in the US, as well as how the casting choices play into the entire mix.

Here is this week’s installment, which delves deeper and broader. I examine not only racial and gender implications but also the messaging on war, protest, abortion, and the Faith Trumps Science theme woven into the narrative (this will be sketched out further in Part B, I introduce it here). Further, I talk about some of the lighting choices employed in the series overall.

There shouldn’t be any spoilers, as currently, the show is in Season 4; this is Season 2.

Images and video clips included. Bring the whole familia!


Some Bruises Fade (Still Flowers Bloom)

January 26th, 2009 § 5 comments § permalink


SOMETIMES I SUFFER A SURREAL MOMENT of displacement or overlap and it’s as if the word TERRORISM which was used to bash our spiritual skulls in over almost the last decade has been replaced with OBAMA which is a shining, untouchable, golden grain of goodness that melts away all doubt or negativity! Oh, I’m not really complaining, dont throw things! Just marveling. I’ve been watching this thing unroll, glued to it, emotionally yanked ALL over about it, filmed it for MTV (ST08 represent, and such), written about it. So many times.

It’s really all just very amazing. In a few ways. As if Bush/Cheney didn’t just smack the hell out of us and eviscerate our sense of trust in government and like a suddenbadbeatdown without warning, reason or consequent justice, life goes on in a battered home and you just keep smiling. Man. My head is spinnin’. I laughed the other night with Sylvia as we talked on the fone and I hatched a skit that I’m going to shoot about the rollercoaster that has been this Obama experience for me (I didn’t know it was a skit until she told me, I was just adlibbing, being a nut). Whiplash to whiplash. That BushCheneyRummyCondi crew stacked up so many crimes, lies, and dirty moves that you didn’t even have time to finish being outraged before they were assaulting your sense of morality, decency, or humanity again it was all a blur of bile. I think somewhere after 9/11 and then getting jailed over FOR ONCE embodying and acting on my feelings about what the F was happening to my country and the world by the hands of my country, that protest march in 04 nYC RNC 1800 watching the cops stomp on the horns and instruments of the band i was marching behind, sick destructive joy and empty eyes behind the baton, shoving us into corners, that girl who was barely midteens freakin, jailed and screamin at three am into our cells, pure derision as they told us WE were the ones effing up society, that WE were the ones and this was my damn city but looked nothing like my country yeah i think it was shortly after that event that I sort of sailed far out into Bush Derangement Land, which of course, is a sacred and holy place. To be there means you have integrity in your heart and that you remain sane with some kind of compass that connects you to the magnetic clasp of humanity. But let me go on because then, as if it wasn’t enough to absolutely pillage and shred our sense of Right and trust and feelings of safety and awareness of truth these pendejo shmucks [slider title=”“]
Here is a curse-phrase that clearly gives away the two converging lines of my family ancestry! :)
[/slider] and their TV puppets and blogging bastard minions have the  nerve to insult us when we “froth at the mouth” over it. HOLEEE. Let me just tell you, classyboys. Keep your insane asses far out of my reach, out of my neighborhood, out of my yard. All of ya. Uppercrust thieves and killers like Bush and garden variety right wing self-loathers spewin fakery. Good lord after the last decade I’m ready to sink my hands into someone. They are, you realize, absolutely fucking mad and that’s why when they get control of the reins of power, they make the rest of the world just as crazy. 


But my point was Obama’s got his hands full with them right now. The GOP and the NeoConduits, Billo, Rush et al. It’s like on the eve of Obama’s election the positivity was undeniable to even them, and you heard all the flippyflopperfollowingfools on the RIght begin to get weepy on TV and radio about the moment and the man and our new direction. “He should succeed! Hell, he’s a Conservative, really, when you think about it.” (Conservative means nothing deeper than “Cool Guy” to them, in case you haven’t sussed it out yet.) Even Dennis Miller began talking snazzy junk about Obama. But of course all that didn’t last. Now with their comments about him failing and such they are self-defined terrorists or at least treasonous, unless we are completely discarding the last eight years of defined terms and allowable political statements and actions…which…they are, of course. Which is why I call them crazy. They are. And you have to leave it at that. Because once you know that, you know that reasoning with or about their behavior is tantamount to signing on to a Shared Delusion. 

Still, as I wrote numerous times. It’s got to be the real thing. I believe now in Obama in the sense that I always have. He has a combination of personal power, “the right place at the right time”, history, the world’s wanting to hope and escape trauma and feel GOOD about the USA again. He has the potential to change things amazingly so. It is also true that he got set up real nice. The bar is oddly high and yet low, too. It’s high because someone who reaches into your heart seemingly, and gets attached to precious parts of yourself must rise to the occasion in your eyes, and in a way that you approve of. It’s low because is easy to make someone happy when they are crawling out of a bloody, charred ruins. “WHAT? YOU aren’t going to TORTURE me???! You are so Good. So Amazing. So Right.” This dynamic, or seeing it, doesn’t negate the amazing quality of the moment, the way it feels to see my blissed out African American friends, the way I feel seeing them in the White House, nor does it diminish Obama’s intellect and heart.

Right now, we just want to feel the sun on our wrinkling, drowned fingertips. Don’t even talk to me about digging down in the Marianis Trench, kid! I’m there, too. I don’t even want to think about Cheney or draw anymore pictures of him. or of Bush and the Hell he hath unleashed in the Middle East. And I also agree with the thrust of one commenter I got yesterday: now is a fragile time, and as the sicko Rightwingers are so absolutely hypocritical and demented that they want to further the damage they’ve done (will it be foreign agents or the GOP who puts the final hole in the US’s hull? Either way, you know Mexicans will be blamed!)  they are all over the Democrats and Obama and I say, yes, let the man work. Let him put changes into motion. Let’s give things time to even out. 

But it’s a bad bad mistake to confuse our need to heal with a desire to overlook justice. The former will only be made possibly by the latter, that is to say there will be no healing without justice. There’s a reason I used the metaphor of a dysfunctional violent home for what just happened to us on a national level and the possibility of “letting bygones be bygones.” See, that’s sick. I know. This was a big part of my first leg of education, and job(s) for a time. Helping adolescents and families (usually mothers, the fathers never came) see when stuff was sick. It does nobody any good to “not talk about it.” It is part of the sickness to avoid accounting at all costs. It means only one thing. Someone wants to leave the door open for the scary face; a path is being left open to do it again. Just as was done for Bush Jr. by Clinton.

trash_tv_kenburnsIt’s got to be real bro. I can separate the amazing event and achievement and historical quality and beautiful experiences of my friends from my own investment in this administration. I can “compartmentalize” as some say. And yes, unlike Rush and the other crazed actors out there, I want the Democrats to succeed in what they are after. Of course I want Obama to succeed! I voted for him in the primaries as well as the national elections. And I also want him to be weathered and given even more wisdom soon, so that he stops consorting with sicko preachers like the homophobe who gave some kind of “prayer” at Obama’s inauguration. And Obama: You had KEN BURNS speak on race????????? WTF?

Dude, sometimes it’s like I don’t get you at all. Those utterly deadhanded spots freak me un poquito. This and the Rick Warren thing seem…actually hostile to certain groups in a sly way. Just this very weird perverse choice made me want to stop listening to your talks. Oh, but maybe I should believe in the power of asking people to represent causes that they have proven destructive toward or inexperienced and unqualified for. Yet…that sorta echoes a pattern I’ve seen too much of lately, if you know what I mean.

Eh. But yeah. Lt the man work. And let the Democrats get settled. But you don’t get my heart until I see how the first PIB (Men in Black aka Will Smith stylin in a suit joke, sorry bout that but once you’ve seen that pic of Obama in shades, it’s hard to shake…) is going to handle the rapidly caving action of the Mexican state. To see what he does with immigration reform, hate rising against gente. With ICE. To see Obama’s public stance on torture, etc. and bills passed on protecting our privacy. To see if we as US Citizens get our JUST DUE and accounting and prosecutions of the crimes committed in the White House and against the People’s trust. But you’re damn right I expect a lot from him! He IS the President. Not, as McCain tried to insist, a celebrity. Or rather, he is our first President Celebrity. But that’s not really his fault. However, he will have to own things pretty soon. Stuff like Pakistan and Palestinians and Afghanistan and our Imperial nature overall, as well as our very strange and unproductive, backward and basically neglected relationship with Mexico. It is, I’d agree, unfair to expect him to fix or handle everything immediately or without being made aware it is important to us. But it is not unfair to expect he should respond to the needs and wants of We the People over other alliances and allegiances if put on notice of what they are.

Remember: Obama is the one who wants us to believe in government again. I can understand why he’d want that. He’s the President. Without our millions of numbers, though, he’s but a man in a big stone house in a big yard. And many people may have been on the brink of completely giving up on even listening to our government anymore. And I’m certainly not against believing in the whole thing. Because at the core, we are trying to get at some righteous ideals. And if I get beat down, I will get up again. But as far as taking a hand from a corner previously hostile, I need to see what’s in that hand before I put my weight on it. Show us that you are the antithesis of Bush. Right now you are getting that benefit of the doubt. But we need to see you—a man who has studied law—combine your knowledge of that law, your sense of Right, our needs for justice and accounting and restored moral compass, PROSECUTE the Bush Administration for each and every crime. 

Else, the yard may look placid for a while. But ware the feverish bloom of Spring.

US customs Treats Bereaved Australians Like Terrorists

January 25th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


READING THIS ONE will really make you start humming the national anthem:

An Australian family who traveled to the US to visit a dying relative were accused of attempting to illegally immigrate by US Customs and Border Patrol officials, who caged them, detained them, starved them overnight, and then sent them back on the next flight to Australia. The US consulate’s only comment? “We reserve the right to refuse entry to visitors to the United States.”

A reminder to the US CBP: what you do to foreigners, their governments are apt to do to Americans. When you treat foreigners this way, you put Americans who go abroad in harm’s way.

Read the story of how they were treated to better understand the looks on their faces. I bet they think we’re getting too crazy and uptight about the TURRORIST threat and losing our national values and poise and decency. Damn ungrateful foreigners.

Obama Announces “Final Solution” to “Indian Problem”

January 24th, 2009 § 20 comments § permalink

lakotah MAYBE YOU REMEMBER Russell Means of the Lakotah from when I’ve written on him, or of course from reading online yourself. Either way, here is his reaction to Obama’s Inaugural Speech. First I’ll quote a friend of mine (Native American) Christine B.:

Hey Nez!

Here is a press release from the Republic of Lakotah from Russ Means on Obama and the American Indian. Right now many Native Americans and rejoicing in the President but not all and it’s with good reason. RM has a video that you can watch and then also below is another press release from another online newspaper.

And here is Russell Means’ press release:

The inaugural address is THE most important speech a President EVER makes. Billions of People look at it. The speech is written over a period of many weeks by a whole team of writers. It is edited and re-edited. Each word and each phrase is scrutinized so as to not offend anyone. Click to View the VIDEO.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers.” He has placed our successful AND peaceful way of life and Spirituality into the category of “Non-Believers!”

Then he uses the phrase “the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve.” What does he mean? Certainly, NOT the tribes of Israel. Who, but the American Indians are referred to as Tribes? We are the ONLY ones.
Obama’s “Final Solution” to the centuries-old “Indian Problem” is total dissolution.

(For any non-regulars stopping by who think Mr. Means is being “oversensitive” or any relation to that term, please come to the discussion after reading a bit.)

The genocidal movements by imperialist powers against the indigenous all over the world—at least where they might be living in lands with rich resources or access to them—rolls on, and on, and on. And the mighty presses keep rolling, ignorance rolling, lies a-rollin’, just like our mighty commerce machine rolls over those who power it at the bottom.

Weekly Imm. Wire [VIDEO]: Marching Toward Justice!

January 24th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Click to Watch Vlog Version

THE VIDEO COMPONENT to the blog I just published (for those who didn’t read to the end or notice the image was linked at end or who read post before I added linked image).

I hit a few headlines here, and you can even get a glimpse of the FIRM march on ICE headquarters!

Clicking this image will take you to my video site where the lights are turned down low and you can focus better, as well as watch related video snacks if you so desire.


• Big sombrero (or beret!) tip to Jackie M, who shares her footage with no need for cre.dit. But I’m cre.diting her here anyway, because it is her footage, and it added a lot to the video. (dont mean to confuse, if i don’t spell credit that way, my blog auto links to a Page on the site, as you can see)

• This video took about 20 hours to make. Not counting compression time. Just shooting/editing/posting.

Note for Blind and Sight-Impaired Amigos using text recognition software: Above is a screenshot of myself in a beret and yellow shirt with hair past my shoulders looking at camera. Next to me, in the “air” is a red and yellow plaque that reads “weekly immigration wire.” In front of me and at bottom of frame is what is known as a “lower third” in the news/video editing world. That means a plaque that has my name, and also other info, like you’ll see on TV with anchors or on some of my other vids, for example, my MTV Street Team videos. Here it says “Nezua, Media Consortium Vlogger, Immigration. ” In the image I am smiling somewhat as if to say “Dios mio, how damn attractive are my sight-impaired readers and viewers especially!” There is no transcript, but we’re sort of working backward as this vlog is a visual representation of the last [text] post. And I don’t know that I’ll always have time to do a text description of all my imagery and media for you, but I’ll try. Especially if anyone indicates it was useful. If not, I probably won’t.

Weekly Immigration Wire: Marching Toward Justice!

January 24th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

[crossposted from my paid gig]

Welcome to the new White House administration, in which we move forward with purpose. On President Obama’s very first day in office, immigrants and allies marched on ICE headquarters to signify their for change. Racewire reports that yesterday, “hundreds gathered in DC, a day after inaugurating our new president, to demand A New Day for Immigration.”

George W. Bush waved goodbye by commuting the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two former border guards who shot a man trying to escape arrest and then tried to cover their deed up. Bush claimed Ramos and Compean had “suffered enough” after serving a fifth of their sentence and set them free, though he did not pardon them. Air America reports on the controversial decision in Bush Commutes Border Agent Sentences (video).

I understand Bush’s reasoning for mercy. But I dare say that the only way you’ll see two Chicanos set free so dramatically is if they shoot a Mexican national. And a note: the victim was not an immigrant, as implied with articles that call him an “illegal alien,” but a smuggler. They are not the same thing. But never mind my cynical humor at a time like this. Let’s take a lesson from a Salvadoran immigrant, whose words about the new administration sparkle with beauty and optimism in New America Media’s Immigrant Worker at Latino Inaugural Ball Shares Hopes for Obama Era:

Maria Perez speaks little English. For more than 20 years now, she has worked as a cleaner at Union Station [in Washington, DC], six days a week, earning slightly more than the minimum wage. She is proud to be among the millions of Latinos who voted for Barack Obama and helped to make him the 44th U.S. president. […]

“I am a Latino. My soul is a Latino, and I am happy I am support Barack,” Perez said in broken English. “Tonight I like it. All people here is happy and beautiful.”


Maria goes on to talk about specific issues such as health and education for her children, both areas that President Obama has pledged to devote attention to.

Many people are aware of how false the stereotypes concerning the undocumented population can be. But some might be surprised by the tenacity and work ethic of Maria, or the inspiring story of Prerna, a friend and colleague of mine whose recent organizing accomplishments are chronicled in New America Media’s Undocumented Students Raise Voices Online for DREAM Act.

Welcome to Web 2.0 undocumented student activism. Youth in the usually-somber waiting rooms of history are bustling with renewed enthusiasm and energy. Trapped in marginal status, ignored by the mainstream media, with their backs to the wall and everything to loose, undocumented youth are emerging as leaders in their own movement for passage of the DREAM Act.


Let me emphasize that: Anyone interested in the power of online organizing ought really read this article. And if you are interested in learning more about the DREAM Act. Change.org is a good place to get the specifics.

Jim Hightower serves up a spirited and informative rant on the “charm” of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in Why The Homeland Security Department is so Beloved. Hightower defines DHS’s charm as “swaggering lunacy” and reveals plans for a 40 ft. high wall in the middle of a “unique 1,000-acre preserve along the Rio Grande.”

The most critical part of the wildlife habitat, and even the home of the preserve’s manager, would be cut off by the wall, effectively destroying the park, which is home to two kinds of endangered wildcats and a rare palm forest.


Read on. It gets worse.

I think we can agree that a 40 ft. tall fence is not going to fix the strained relationship between the US and Mexico. The Economic Populist veers from its normal reporting, alarmed by news of violence down south. In Trouble at the Mexican Border, we read about the possibility of Mexico as a failed state: “The violence, corruption and drug cartels are now so out of control in Mexico, analysts are saying, not only is Mexico one of the world’s security threats but Mexico itself might collapse.”

The drug cartels are, by and large, the focus of these types of discussions. But we have to examine how government oppression, corruption and laws that do not serve the greater population create systemic problems for a society.

The United States is completely ignoring what is going on in Mexico but if one compares the daily beheading stories, murder, kidnapping and corruption….if one didn’t know the story was about Mexico one would swear they were reading something about Iraq in 2003/2004 time frame.


I’ve been following news from Mexico for a few years now, and I agree that most US media ignores Mexico to our detriment. This is baffling to me because our cultures, our land, our labor, and our peoples are so intertwined as to be two parts of one whole. It is easy to forget this in the midst of much rigid talk of maps, borders, and walls. But reality is knocking at our door. President Obama has put Bush on notice. Change is at hand and a sizable portion of Obama’s constituency has made their needs clear, as New America Media reports in Immigrant Activists March on ICE on Day After Inauguration.

The post-inaugural march is only a beginning. […] Across the country, advocates plan for more actions, coordinated through an increasingly sophisticated communications network, to build a groundswell in favor of reform.


Good morning, America!

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 TPM, Open Salon, Daily Kos, MyDD, Open Left, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, The Sanctuary, The Media Consortium, and other sites.

Let’s All Go to the Lobby!

January 22nd, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink


JUST POINTING YOU FILM/TV BUFFS toward my latest writeup/musing on film (visual media, in this case Sci-Fi and TV). This post is on Battlestar Galactica and the Cylon character. As always, I welcome your reactions, so feel free to jump in. And hookup to the RSS if you dig this kind of writing. Clearly posts like this won’t be written every day or even every couple days, but between the analysis/discussion and the videos I’ll be posting, there will be content to watch for. And watch!

Exit of the Rich Boy Vaseline Gloves Silver Spoon Frog Killer.

January 20th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

ONE OF THE THINGS that hit me in a “real” place about bush—aside from my protesting him and getting locked up over it—was watching him gut programs like the one that helped local teenage girls who were pregnant and needed housing. A fire lit in me that day that threatened to eat my heart alive. My girlfriend was a social worker and that was the population she dealt with. She would come home and tell me about how the program was ending…give me real life glimpses of the people who were affected by it, what it meant now…and then I’d look to the TV and see that imp’s face, that gargoyle hunch, that smug grin. I won’t write what visions it gave me because I’m not sure of the exact laws laying out what you can say about past presidents without getting visited by government agents. But the class war that the GOP champions has hurt a lot of people. I’m one, too, but I’m nothing next to those young women he pulled the apartment keys away from.

I think I may be sad and then angry about how Obama handles some international stuff. That is, I don’t expect him to be honest about Israel, and I don’t expect his administration to change our overal imperialist nature, decrease military bases around the world, stop toppling govts we don’t like in countries far away, etc. And that will be something for us to address. But I do have a lot of good feelings about what our government might do domestically now. Health, Social Programs, Jobs, Environment, Art, and Science-wise. I’m excited about that.

Entertainment & War, Pt. III

January 19th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

THE WORLD IS ALIGHT (and Twitter, too) with talk of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, and it has all caught me a bit off rhythm. Not that I don’t think it’s fantastic and exciting, of course it is. History is clearly being etched across our slate, and it’s amazing. Yet, I’m here in the sway of my work and my play, and as I’ve abandoned the daily push and pull of news cycle synergy, I’m a bit off-topic at the moment. Still thinking heavily of Gaza and Israel and the killing, bombing, PSYOPS, info flow, my own family, history, oppressions, peoples, imperialism and “good” wars waged by militarily and mightily superior nations and how those who deal in violence use TV events and societal galas to mask intensification of oppression, that is, how media and its heavy integration with our lives and emotional landscapes is used by those who would control or harm others and so our entertainment is their weapon, or…rather, our symbiosis with media, and thus, the predictable nature of our mass-attention…. Lots of thoughts.

Anyway, here’s the video I did last year for MLK day.

Weekly Immigration Wire [VIDEO]: Trapped Behind a Mesh of Broken Law

January 16th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

weeklyimmigrationwireiconWEEKLY SHORT VIDEOS OR VLOGS that accompany my Weekly Immigration Wire posts may be a regular feature from here on in. Right now I’m testing out the process, TMC is testing out the cost/benefts ratio, and I’m also trying out a couple styles in highlighting some of these stories that I feature from the Immigration Newsladder each week.

Here is this weeks. In this style I take a backseat and fashion a short piece (1m57s) that I hope draws interest in the stories I am blogging and perhaps are lucky enough to have one or two other side benefits from time to time.

Hope you like the video, and please (I was gonna say “retweet” wow) repost or link if the spirit moves you.

Weekly Immigration Wire: Trapped Behind a Mesh of Broken Law

January 15th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

[crossposted from the TMC blog, my weekly paid gig.

by Nezua
Media Consortium Blogger

As we are days away from ushering in a new president, hopes are high that relief can be had in federal immigration law. Yet, the Bush administration has made last minute changes to immigration law, reminding us once more of the incompetence in which we have been living for eight years.

New America Media’s highlights the gross willful negligence that is Bush’s trademark in Immigration Contradiction.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey determined that those [immigrants] tried in immigration courts had no right to challenge the outcome of their cases based on their lawyers’ performance. At the same time, the attorney general defended the policy of not guaranteeing legal representation to those appearing before immigration judges since these are civil cases and the Constitution does not consider this right under such circumstances.

In short, those detained for immigration violations are treated as criminal when it comes to invading their privacy by obtaining their genetic material. Yet, their cases are considered civil when arguing that they have no right to counsel.

When we answer genuine human need and national crisis with antics like this, we are in serious danger of losing our national soul. Or maybe just faith in our government. After all, as Feministing.com reports in Unions Win at North Carolina Plant, the workers seem to have retained both their souls and their faith, if only in each other:

When immigration agents raided Smithfield Food’s huge North Carolina slaughterhouse two years ago, union organizer Eduardo Peña compared the impact to a “nuclear bomb.” The day after, people were so scared that most of the plant’s 5,000 employees didn’t show up for work. The lines where they kill and cut apart 32,000 hogs every day were motionless. “Workers think it’s happening because people were getting organized,” said Vargas at the time.

If you do harbor hope that more people will wake up to the critical need for humane immigration reform, it can be daunting to read through too much of the mainstream reporting on the issue. Everyday, the undocumented are met with legal manipulation and sly criminalization. And many media outlets focus on punishment and sensationalize fear and danger. And of course, the ABC network is craven enough to make a reality show out of it.

New America Media reports on the new television show called “Homeland Security USA and the Facebook Group called “Take ‘Homeland Security USA’ reality show off the Air!” that rose up to protest the show. (Disclosure: I belong to this group.) And Raj Jayadev doesn’t mince words in Homeland Security Show Misses the Real Drama.

The program “Homeland Security USA” fails because it only shows part of the reality. Why not give a camera to a family crossing the border, to capture the horror of being chased down in the desert, surviving only through the desperation of an imagined American life? Or a workplace raid at a meatpacking plant in the Midwest, where workers flee agents who are armed like they are entering a war zone? Why not go to Eloy, Ariz., where sprung up out of the dirt in the middle of nowhere, like a mirage, is one the largest detention centers in the country –where detainees ask for deportation because the conditions are subhuman, and elderly men die of dehydration? […]

While the program clearly shows the enormity and omnipresence of the mega-security agency, all this does is beg the more interesting question: How do ordinary civilians stay out of their clutches? How does an undocumented immigrant carve out an American life – work, go to school, build a family, plant roots – all while this multi-million dollar machinery called Homeland Security is stalking them every moment of the day?

 Drama is with the rebels, not the empire.

In Wiretap online magazine’s Advocating for an Identity, we get a closer look at one of these “rebels.” If you are imagining a wild-eyed Zapatista behind a bandanna, I’ll have to disappoint. For most of Stephanie’s 22 years, she had no idea that she fit into the often-despised category of “Illegal.”

Coming up on her eighteenth birthday, Stephanie pestered her mom to go with her to the DMV to finally get her California ID as an adult.

For the first 18 years of her life, Stephanie had no idea she was in the United States illegally, and she finally found out as she stood at the brink of adulthood.

In the same article, 25-yea-old Tam Tran pleads for the public to understand the importance of passing the DREAM Act:

“Without the DREAM Act, I have no prospect of overcoming my state of immigration limbo,” Tran said in her testimony. “I’ll forever be a perpetual foreigner in a country where I’ve always considered myself an American.”

She also talked about her experiences as an undocumented student a few months later in an October 2007 USA Today article. Later that month at work, Tran received a collect call from her mother.

Her family had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

And that is the very fear that is haunting Yolanda Guevera, a United States citizen and member of the Army Reserve. You see, her husband is undocumented. In Deployed And Deported — Immigration law hurts military families, New America Media reports on Yolanda’s predicament.

Guevara is a rear detachment commander for her Army Reserve unit, which has already been deployed to Kuwait. It’s a matter of time before she would have to leave her husband and three children in North Carolina to join her unit. […]

“He works part time but whenever I have to go out … he’s there for me,” Yolanda says. “I don’t think I could be in the military without him.” […]

When Guevara explained her situation to the immigration officer, the response was less than helpful. “I told him, ‘My unit is going to be deployed, so I’m afraid— what if I’m gone and I’m stationed over in Iraq or Kuwait, and my husband’s [status] expires?’” she says. “What’s going to happen to my kids?”

She says the officer responded, “You worry about that when that happens.”

Without the dreams, hard work, risks, and ingenuity of immigrants, we would not be here. I know I would not. Nor would so many of our massive institutions of commerce, which began as nothing more than a humble and small business. It is as if we get comfortable and forget our own histories. The tales of struggle and dreaming and working and persecution—is this not America? Are these not our stories? Would we throw our own past into prison?

Let us hope for real change and more than that, let us keep working and fighting for it.

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 TPM, Open Salon, Daily Kos, MyDD, Open Left, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, The Sanctuary, In These Times, The Media Consortium, and other sites.

Weekly Immigration Wire: Will Humanity Return to US in 2009?

January 8th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

[crossposted from the TMC blog, my weekly paid gig. this is the one texty post you can count on from me each week, on thursdays, though i may retitle for use at UMX]

By Nezua
Media Consortium Mediawire Blogger

The new year rushes upon us with momentum born of crisis and necessity. In every direction one looks, change is needed—and not cosmetic alteration, but deep, structural repair. The issue of immigration is no exception.

As New America Media reports in Immigration Demands Heat Up Before Obama Takes Over, Latino/a communities are not alone in speaking out.”Lawmakers, academics, immigration advocates and newspaper editorials” are making noise and “demanding that early attention to be paid to the immigration issue.” The clamor is not just about ending politicization and criminalization of an issue. It’s a matter of who we are as a nation.

There should be a plan that would first allow most of the undocumented to become legal residents, the supporters said. The next step would be eligibility for a green card and ultimately citizenship, a process that could take between seven to 10 years.

Greater emphasis is on family re-unification and less on enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security that controls immigration, and an end to the unconscionable nighttime raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), arm of the Department of Homeland Security. […]

Dr. Marco Mason, [a political science professor at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, and one of the most vocal immigration advocates in Brooklyn] couldn’t agree more. “President Obama would be telling the world that humanity has returned to U.S. immigration policies,” he said.

Poring over the Immigration Newsladder, one can make out the tensions at play as we, as a People, attempt to answer the question What kind of nation is the UNITED STATES? One approach to the immigration question is through punitive and aggressive means. On that end of the continuum are harsh laws, S.W.A.T.-style raids, mass jailings, a detention center industry, and inevitably, shattered families. The other side of the continuum offers a more humanitarian lens. This view recognizes the interconnected quality of all our struggles, hungers, and pains—and most importantly, that knows neglecting another is a detriment to the whole.

Public News Service reports on how we all benefit from understanding in New Medical Technology Helps CA Immigrants Bridge The Language Gap.

Rancho Los Amigos in Southern California is the first rehabilitation hospital in the world to implement a wireless Video Medical Interpreter system. VMI allows non-English-speaking patients to communicate with their doctors through an on-screen interpreter.

Roland Palencia, director of Community Benefit Programs with L.A. Care Health Plan, says the system improves communication, increases quality of care and reduces medical errors. […]

“There is definitely a medical benefit to it, but also a psychological one: The patient really feels a lot more at ease that the provider actually understands what he or she is going through.”

Who doesn’t want that? Who ought to be denied such a thing? To some these answers are very clear cut, and even at a young age. Twenty-four year old Sophya Chum is one of those people. Sophya has been active in her community and working hard for change for almost half her life, and today is program coordinator for Khmer Girls in Action (KGA), “a Long Beach-based community organization for young Southeast Asian women,” as The Nation reports in Youth in Action: Sophya Chum, Immigrant Rights Activist. For Sophya, the fight is political and it is personal, and she has some very practical and uncluttered advice to those who want to do more to affect change in the world.

For people interested in advocating for the rights of immigrants and refugees, Sophya suggests starting simple. “Find a community [you’re] interested in learning about and creating change in,” she says. “And begin to volunteer.”

Immigration is the quintessential American Story. And this story and its arc, ever repeating itself, is hardly limited to the Latino/a community or the Asian American community.

In Colorado playwright explores cultural conflicts of immigration, religion, the Colorado Independent tells the story of Don Fried, a respected author who began altering his book-in-progress when the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa was raided on May 12, 2008.

Fried is currently toying with the idea of having one of the play’s discontented locals, a character who has not been happy about Jewish people coming to town and building a kosher meatpacking plant there, tip off the federal authorities and spark the immigration raid.

“But then, as the town starts to crater, that person and all the others begin to wonder what has been done — they’ve killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” he said.

There’s that interconnectedness again, and this time through an economic lens.

And so these borders and boundaries, designed to separate us, also thread us together through our lived experiences interacting with them. The Latina/o community, the Jewish community, the Asian American community, the Irish community—and the Polish community, as New America Media reports in Polish Community Shocked by Treatment of Polish Citizens at U.S. Border.

This year ends with an unpleasant intervention by Poland’s diplomatic staff at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. At issue are recent cases of Poles who were denied entry to the U.S. at the New York area airports.

While no one questions the right of the U.S to bar certain individuals from entering the country, the treatment of Polish citizens was shocking to many, especially since most of those stopped at the border were older women in their 60s and 70s. Many of them were coming to visit their families and friends for Christmas, but instead ended up being interrogated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and transported in handcuffs to a detention center.

And we have to ask ourselves again, What Kind of Nation Are We? What do we lose in a situation like that? Does it balance against any measurable gain? Or is there another way to go about reaching our goal?

Are we the kind of nation that turns 12 million members of our standing society into “dangerous aliens” undeserving of common rights? Is that what kind of nation we will remain in 2009? Public News Service sounds a clear warning in Immigration Policy Blamed for Latino Deaths in NY and Nation.

Are we going to continue to be the kind of nation that makes immigrant women pay, with their bodies, for laws that deprive them of a safe and accessible avenue to rights other women possess? Feministing tells of Latinas and self-induced abortions and the growing use of the drug for self-induced abortions. “The story is the same; immigrant women choose these do-it-yourself abortions for financial reasons, or out of fear of telling their family members, over safer procedures in clinics and hospitals.”

Time and time again, wielding such a heavy hand in response to immigrant issues involves losing touch with the basic humanity a situation requires. You make things worse. Things get out of control. People suffer very real consequences.

In 2009, let’s be a nation of those who help each other; who learn from each other; who stop tearing at our own roots so we can grow together.

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 posted at TPM, Open Salon, Daily Kos, MyDD, Open Left, Huffington Post, Firedoglake, and The Media Consortium Blog.

Do You Remember Your Childhood Dreams?

January 8th, 2009 § 8 comments § permalink

Please, if you have a moment, go to the page and rate the video up.

[updated link! easy to vote, we’re 894 votes shy!!] And vote for the Dream Act at change.org.


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