Saturday, June 30, 2007

Looks like Ductape Fatwa is really gone

At bare minimum, his email account no longer works, as I discovered this evening when I received an error message to the effect that the account had been "discontinued or disabled." I know at Yahoo that typically accounts get discontinued for any of a number of reasons including lack of activity (a few months of not checking your email, and "poof" the account is discontinued unless or until the account's owner reactivates it). Unless he reappears or unless a relative is sufficiently cognizant of his internet life to contact some of us with news (good or bad) about his circumstances, I can only hold on to the faint hope that he's still alive and well (or that he is at peace).

Anyone who ever read his blog, or checked any of his postings at the various "gated community blogs" (a term he coined just months before he disappeared) or some of the larger or smaller community and group blogs will know three things about him: 1) he had a uniquely creative writing style, 2) he was no stranger to controversy (just look at the testimonials to him at the far right column of his own blog, for example) and 3) he was good at unifying a diverse and probably divergent group of people. The latter quality in particular was readily apparent during the early weeks of Mo Betta Meta while he was still active, and has been sorely missed in his now extended absence there (the animosities that have sprung up subsequently between one-time friends have been nothing short of heartbreaking [at least so to me] to say the least).

I'll merely use this post as a sort of message in a bottle, in the hopes that one day someone who knows his whereabouts can get in touch with me or one of his other friends who miss him.

For now, I'll leave you with a poem he posted over at In Flight last September 11:

by Martin Espada

Alabanza. Praise the cook with a shaven head and a tattoo on his shoulder that said Oye, a blue-eyed Puerto Rican with people from Fajardo, the harbor of pirates centuries ago.
Praise the lighthouse in Fajardo, candle glimmering white to worship the dark saint of the sea.

Alabanza. Praise the cook's yellow Pirates cap worn in the name of Roberto Clemente, his plane that flamed into the ocean loaded with cans for Nicaragua, for all the mouths chewing the ash of earthquakes.

Alabanza. Praise the kitchen radio, dial clicked even before the dial on the oven, so that music and Spanish rose before bread. Praise the bread.

Alabanza. Praise Manhattan from a hundred and seven flights up, like Atlantis glimpsed through the windows of an ancient aquarium. Praise the great windows where immigrants from the kitchen could squint and almost see their world, hear the chant of nations: Ecuador, México, Republica Dominicana, Haiti, Yemen, Ghana, Bangladesh.

Alabanza. Praise the kitchen in the morning, where the gas burned blue on every stove and exhaust fans fired their diminutive propellers, hands cracked eggs with quick thumbs or sliced open cartons to build an altar of cans.

Alabanza. Praise the busboy's music, the chime-chime of his dishes and silverware in the tub.
Alabanza. Praise the dish-dog, the dishwasher who worked that morning because another dishwasher could not stop coughing, or because he needed overtime to pile the sacks of rice and beans for a family floating away on some Caribbean island plagued by frogs.
Alabanza. Praise the waitress who heard the radio in the kitchen and sang to herself about a man gone.

Alabanza. After the thunder wilder than thunder, after the shudder deep in the glass of the great windows, after the radio stopped singing like a tree full of terrified frogs, after night burst the dam of day and flooded the kitchen, for a time the stoves glowed in darkness like the lighthouse in Fajardo, like a cook's soul. Soul I say, even if the dead cannot tell us about the bristles of God's beard because God has no face, soul I say, to name the smoke-beings flung in constellations across the night sky of this city and cities to come.

Alabanza. I say, even if God has no face.

Alabanza. When the war began, from Manhattan and Kabul two constellations of smoke rose and drifted to each other, mingling in icy air, and one said with an Afghan tongue:

Teach me to dance. We have no music here.

and the other said with a Spanish tongue:

I will teach you. Music is all we have.
Ductape, wherever you are, I hope there is music.

ICE Raids Continue

Saw this over at Indymedia:
ICE Raids Intensify: Families Torn Apart
SANTA BARBARA June 28, 2007 - In a jarring reminder that the human rights of immigrants—the rights to work, move about, and live a life free from fear—are under constant threat of violation, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided three restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara this Thursday morning. At least thirty people have been detained, according to community activists. Full report: ICE raid detains 30 in Santa Barbara by Rockero

And in Santa Ana raids continue as the community rallies for a demonstration this Saturday to protest recent raids in Orange County. “They are taking parents walking kids home from school, women walking home from grocery store, workers at bus stops” Full report: ICE Takes no rest in Santa Ana--Only Prisoners by dl

The political harassment continues unabated, human consequences be damned.

One goal is to squelch efforts to mobilize immigrants in particular and Hispanics more broadly. Lost in all of this is the role that such factors as NAFTA play in creating starvation and near-starvation conditions in Mexico and elsewhere in Central America - exacerbated by the recent ethanol boom that is diverting corn from human food consumption to fuel for SUVs. No matter how you slice it, this is one human rights crisis that is only going to become more intense.

Kos on the CIA:

I don’t think it’s a very partisan thing to want a stable world. And even if you’re protecting American interests, I mean that can get ugly at times, but generally speaking I think their hearts in the right place. As an organization their heart is in the right place. I’ve never had any problem with the CIA. I’d have no problem working for them . .
Found at Francis Holland's blog, with my emphasis added. Note that the title is a tad misleading - Kos spent six months interviewing for a CIA job (a bit of a difference between that and actually working for CIA). Yeah, their hearts are in the right place, all right! And this dude is the presumed mouthpiece of today's "progressive" Democrats.

School of the Americas vote: Here are your Democrat cowards!

Voting to keep SOA open:
Abercrombie, Neil, Hawaii
Barrow, John, Georgia
Bishop, Sanford D. Georgia
Boren, Dan, Oklahoma
Cardoza, Dennis, California
Carney, Christopher, Pennsylvania
Castor, Kathy, Florida
Clyburn, James, South Carolina
Cooper, James, Tennessee
Costa, James, California
Cuellar, Henry, Texas
Dingell, John, Michigan
Edwards, Chet, Texas
Gonzalez, Charles, Texas
Gordon, Bart, Tennessee
Herseth Sandlin, Stephanie, South Dakota
Jefferson, William, Louisiana
Johnson, E.B., Texas
Klein, Ron, Florida
Lampson, Nick, Texas
Mahoney, Tim, Florida
Marshall, James, Georgia
Matheson, James, Utah
McIntyre, Michael, North Carolina
Meek, Kendrick, Florida
Miller, Brad, North Carolina
Murphy, Patrick, Pennsylvania
Murtha, John, Pennsylvania
Perlmutter, Ed, Colorado
Peterson, Colin, Minnesota
Reyes, Silvestre, Teaxs
Rodriguez, Ciro, Texas
Ross, Michael, Arkansas
Ruppersberger, Dutch, Maryland
Sestak, Joseph, Pennsylvania
Skelton, Ike, Missouri
Space, Zachary, Ohio
Spratt, John, South Carolina
Tanner, John, Tennessee
Taylor, Gene, Mississippi

Christensen, Donna, US Virgin Islands

Not Voting:
Bordallo, Madeline, Guam
Costello, Jerry, Illinois
Cramer, Robert, Alabama
Johnson, Henry, Georgia
Meehan, Marty, Massachusetts
Melancon, Charles, Louisiana
Napolitano, Grace, California
Ortiz, Solomon, Texas
Rangel, Charles, New York
Sanchez, Loretta, California
Scott, David, Georgia
Weiner, Anthony, New York

List compiled here and with commentary here. Probably not too many surprises here. Stephanie Herseth (SD) was the darling of Daily Kos back in 2004, if anyone can remember that far back any more. She's built a pretty sordid history of backing the wrong side on human rights issues since she took office. Dan Boren (OK) is a dedicated war hawk as I recall. Same can be said of Missouri's Ike Skelton. You get the picture.

What was really learned from the Hurricane Katrina disaster?

How to destroy a predominantly Black city:
Step Thirteen. When you finally have to reopen the city, make sure to reopen the African-American sections last. This will aggravate racial tensions in the city and create conflicts between those who are able to make it home and those who are not.

Step Fourteen. When the big money is given out, make sure it is all directed to homeowners and not to renters. This is particularly helpful in a town like New Orleans that was majority African-American and majority renter. Then, after you have excluded renters, mess the program for the homeowners up so that they must wait for years to get money to fix their homes.

Step Fifteen. Close down all the public schools for months. This will prevent families in the public school system, overwhelmingly African-Americans, from coming home.

Step Sixteen. Fire all the public school teachers, teacher aides, cafeteria workers and bus drivers and de-certify the teachers union–the largest in the state. This will primarily hurt middle class African Americans and make them look for jobs elsewhere.

Step Seventeen. Even better, take this opportunity to flip the public school system into a charter system and push foundations and the government to extra money to the new charter schools. Give the schools with the best test scores away first. Then give the least flooded schools away next. Turn 70% of schools into charters so that the kids with good test scores or solid parental involvement will go to the charters. That way the kids with average scores, or learning disabilities, or single parent families who are still displaced are kept segregated away from the “good” kids. You will have to set up a few schools for those other kids, but make sure those schools do not get any extra money, do not have libraries, nor doors on the toilets, nor enough teachers. In fact, because of this, you better make certain there are more security guards than teachers.

Step Eighteen. Let the market do what it does best. When rent goes up 70%, say there is nothing we can do about it. This will have two great results. It will keep many former residents away from the city and it will make landlords happy. If wages go up, immediately import more outside workers and wages will settle down.

Step Nineteen. Make sure all the predominately white suburbs surrounding the African-American city make it very difficult for the people displaced from the city to return to the metro area.

Have one suburb refuse to allow any new subsidized housing at all.

Have the Sheriff of another threaten to stop and investigate anyone wearing dreadlocks.

Throw in a little humor and have one nearly all-white suburb pass a law which makes it illegal for homeowners to rent to people other than their blood relatives!

The courts may strike these down, but it will take time and the message will be clear–do not think about returning to the suburbs.

Step Twenty. Reduce public transportation by more than 80%. The people without cars will understand the message.
Found at Marisacat's place.

Friday, June 29, 2007

In Her Own Words: Carol Rutz

"The CIA bought my services from my grandfather in 1952 starting at the tender age of four," wrote Carol Rutz of her experiences.

"Over the next 12 years, I was tested, trained, and used in various ways. Electroshock, drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, and other types of trauma were used to make me complain and split my personality (to create multiple personalities for specific tasks). Each alter or personality was created to respond to a post-hypnotic trigger, then perform an act and (I would) not remember it later.

"This Manchurian Candidate program was just one of the operational uses of the mind-control scenario by the CIA.

"Your hard-earned tax dollars supported this."
Read more here.

Message from Amtrak:

Don't be black and go into diabetic shock. You'll be assumed to be "drunk and disorderly," kicked off the train in the middle of nowhere, and left to potentially die.

(Luckily this guy was found alive, albeit very dehydrated and disoriented)

Speaking of antipartisan,

how about Dal LaMagna? Here's some food for thought:
LaMagna is convinced that American voters are tired of business as usual. With the unpopularity of the president, the Congress and both political parties, LaMagna is going to be taking a different approach to politics. And, because the top issue on the voter's agenda is Iraq, LaMagna is going to use his campaign to show the public that the war can be ended --quickly and responsibly. He plans to begin to run television advertisements that will feature Iraqi's speaking to Americans directly.

This will be a campaign to watch as it will be different from any other --different not only for the 2008 campaign but different from any that has come before it.
Not only that, but LaMagna is something of a myth buster when it comes to some rationales given by our nation's elites for continuing to colonize Iraq:
His experience with Iraqis dispels many myths that Americans have about Iraq. Two key myths are particularly important:
First, Iraqis consistently tell him that the violence will start abating when the U.S. announces plans to leave. One Iraqi tribal leader reversed Bush's rhetoric and said "when the U.S. stands down Iraqis will stand up." The consistent view is that the root cause of the violence is the occupation.
Second, there will not be a civil war if the U.S. leaves in fact the chance of civil war increases if the U.S. stays. Iraqis do not need the U.S. to deal with the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia. There is not a sectarian civil war in progress nor will one erupt. Over and over Dal heard from Iraqis that they have mixed marriages. One quipped "I am Sunni my wife if Shia I don't need American soldiers to protect me from my wife." What is brewing is a political civil war the nationalists vs. the separatists.
Dal has provided transcripts, video tapes and summaries of his meetings with Iraqis on his website.
Who knows. Maybe he'd even walk his talk when it comes to a transparent government. Worth keeping an eye on.

Quotable: Malcom X

"I've had enough of somebody else's propaganda. I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole."
Props to the blogger known as the field negro.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tonight's vocabulary lesson: antipartisanship

Here's a new term to add to the lexicon:
Antipartisanship (n)

1. A chronic aversion to professional politicians and their handlers, based on the belief that they are all cynical and unprincipled. 2. An unwillingness to identify with either major political party based on said beliefs.

Mimus Pauly at skippy's place adds a third definition that seems reasonably sensible:
a cynicism borne of the betrayal of trust by either or both major political parties, resulting in the belief that all politicians and political operatives are unprincipled.
Both of these bloggers are tapping into something that I think I've tried to express before. For example, from almost two years ago, in an essay titled American Solidarity - A Beginning:
For more years than I would want to count at this point in my life I have been questioning the direction and purpose of the Democrat party. I've made no secret of my general uneasiness within what has become of the Dems whose leadership has generally underwhelmed me over the last quarter century. Truth is I really don't fit in with a party that seems to favor its corporate cronies over its purported commitment to basic progressive and populist values and policies. The GOP was never and will never be an alternative for me. The unholy alliance of theocons and neocons is one with which I simply would never wish to associate. Genocidal wars, draconian laws that decimate the letter and spirit of The Bill of Rights, looting the nation's treasury and generally pissing away the nation's future for the sake of feathering a few cronies' nests under the aegis of God and Country are the halmarks of the GOP. The best I've been able to say about the Dems is that they are "less bad."

The question that I can never leave far behind is this: "is less bad good enough?" When lives and quality of life are at stake, the answer is no. As of late I have given the words of the late Malcom X a fresh read, and I have a couple observations. One is that in many respects, when we're talking about civil rights and human rights in America things really haven't changed much since Malcom's day. The images from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina of the dire poverty that has consigned so many of our fellow Americans to a lifetime of marginal existence (what the Marxists would call the lumpenproletariat) and neglect by the very government that is supposed to serve them, will haunt me for as long as I can still draw a breath. Those images should haunt all of us. The specter of racism and classism continues to plague our political and social landscape, just as it has all of my life. The second observation: politicians from one party or another haved talked a good game when it comes to promoting progressive ideas and policies - but with few exceptions they don't walk the talk. That was a problem that Malcom confronted with the issues that were salient to him, and is a problem that we on the left continue to confront. The Dems have assumed for so long that they have the leftists, the women, the ethnic minorities in their back pockets because presumably we have "nowhere else to go." The result is, as it was in the 1950s and 1960s, a not-so-benign neglect of our issues and values from the powers that be. And as long as we keep registering Democrat and periodically show up to vote when expected, nothing changes, except maybe for the worse. We have a party where its members say the right things more often than not, but then by and large approve laws like The Patriot Act, the bankruptcy bill that will end up burying working families who've encountered exhorbitant medical expenses; they've been silent when the White House nominated an architect of the current pro-torture policy to the office of AG; when it comes to the illegal war being fought against the Iraqis, many of the Dems want to send more troops and kill of even more people; they've been largely silent on the issue of voting irregularities both in Ohio and Florida; and we know that privacy rights are also no longer sacred in Dem circles.

What to do? In Malcom's last year on this planet he offered up some simple advice that I think we can all use: be organized, and don't affiliate with either the Dems or the GOP. That's the general idea behind American Solidarity: organize physically, financially, intellectually. Many of us come from varying backgrounds and have varying pet causes, but let's face it - those of us who are living paycheck to paycheck, those of us who value liberty, who value equality, who value justice, who value privacy have a hell of a lot in common. Technological advances in the last decade or so make it easier for us to coordinate and to exchange ideas and information than ever before. It's way past time to start using those tools to our advantage. Blogs are one of our tools, playing the same role that zines played in the 1980s and pamphlets such as Paine's played during the Revolution some 230 years ago. Blogging is only part of that picture. Cernig fills in some of the details elsewhere. Clearly, unions, thinktanks, civil liberties organizations are going to be salient as well.

Being unaffiliated with the major political parties is also crucial for an American Solidarity movement. The GOP can be written off as a lost cause. The Dems, I'm also skeptical of, but will note this much: if they think we're registered as Dems, they can assume that we'll continue to accept the status quo. Malcom was onto something back in 1964 and 1965 when he advocated refusing to back any candidate until it was clear that they were willing to walk their talk. If they turn out to be kosher, then by all means support them, but only to the extent that they are representing us. If they stop representing us, we should be willing to walk away from them. If they know that their constituents mean business, they'll be more careful to represent us in whatever legislative body they hold office. There's strength in numbers, especially when those numbers are independent.
My position today is essentially unchanged. Like the first blogger I quoted (RJ Eskow), I'm the last person to call for a "bipartisan" anything (also why like Eskow I got turned off of Unity '08 really quickly). If anything, I'm fed up with the players in both of the "official" US political parties and would just as soon be rid of them both. Unlike certain other alleged "progressive" bloggers, I won't write off third party candidates or third parties themselves. If anything, I'd like to encourage more third party activity - even in places that are quite unfriendly to third parties like Oklahoma.

Certainly it's been heartening to read polls in which more folks are identifying themselves as independents rather than affiliating with the Dems or GOP. I'll merely echo what I know has been said so many times in so many other contexts that folks identify as "independent" for a lot of reasons, and hold many diverse (indeed often divergent) political positions. To lump us all together as "moderates" or "centrists" would be idiotically mistaken at best.

That said, I'm sure that there are at least a few common threads among a good number of us, and those common threads could and should be exploited by independents in order to exact some form of meaningful change in the social and political order - ending the damned imperial aspirations of our current partisan elites would be as good a good place as any to start. Or how about smashing the current dysfunctional health "care" system and replacing it with something that would actually keep us (regardless of income) healthy. As un-PC is it is to say, they sure do a damned good job in Cuba; why not here? You get the picture. A lot of independents were willing to cast their lot with the Dems in 2006 under the impression that said Dems were actually going to end the war. One can also find a sizeable proportion of independent voters who are way unsatisfied with a medical system that benefits CEOs of HMOs and pharmaceutical corporations rather than the patients themselves.

As independents we have nothing to lose by casting off the shackles of the Democrat and GOP parties and instead thinking and acting independently of them. Hell, we have plenty to gain, including the potential to give to our kids and grandkids a more sustainable and healthier future.

First settled communities by Homo Erectus?

Check this out:

Our earliest ancestors gave up hunter-gathering and took to a settled life up to 400,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to controversial research.

The accepted timescale of Man’s evolution is being challenged by a German archaeologist who claims to have found evidence that Homo erectus — mankind’s early ancestor, who migrated from Africa to Asia and Europe — began living in settled communities long before the accepted time of 10,000 years ago.

The point at which settlement actually took place is the first critical stage in humanity’s cultural development.

Helmut Ziegert, of the Institute of Archaeology at Hamburg University, says that the evidence can be found at excavated sites in North and East Africa, in the remains of stone huts and tools created by upright man for fishing and butchery.

Professor Ziegert claims that the thousands of blades, scrapers, hand axes and other tools found at sites such as Budrinna, on the shore of the extinct Lake Fezzan in southwest Libya, and at Melka Konture, along the River Awash in Ethiopia, provide evidence of organised societies.

He believes that such sites show small communities of 40 or 50 people, with abundant water resources to exploit for constant harvests.

There's more if you click the link, but that should pretty well give you the gist. Not sure what to make of it, other than to express some curiosity as to what additional research (either by Ziegert and/or independent investigators) uncover.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Fun With the Dolchstoßlegende: National Review Cruise Edition

The following passages were culled from a post over at the Blog:
“It’s customary to say we lost the Vietnam war, but who’s ‘we’?” Dinesh D’Souza asks angrily. “The left won by demanding America’s humiliation.” On this ship, there are no Viet Cong, no three million dead. There is only liberal treachery.


Bernard Lewis: “The [2006] election in the U.S. is being seen by [the bin Ladenists] as a victory on a par with the collapse of the Soviet Union. We should be prepared for whatever comes next.”
Not to worry, as the great humanitarian Robert Bork cheerfully reminds us:
“The coverage of this war is unbelievable. Even Fox News is unbelievable. You’d think we’re the only ones dying. Enemy casualties aren’t covered. We’re doing an excellent job killing them.”
My emphasis added. The idea of being stuck on a boat for any length of time is not exactly my cup of tea to begin with. Being stuck on a boat with that bunch - I shudder to think of what that would be like.

One more cartoon (and some commentary) for the road

Found at Marisacat's place. Keep in mind that ol' Tony will keep on rearing his ugly head, as a special envoy to the Middle-East. As Lenin's Tomb aptly puts it:
Why stop there? Why not put a Klansman in charge of race relations, a paedophile at the head of the Boy Scouts, and set up a Melvyn Bragg School for Cultural Excellence while we're at it? They have selected Tony Blair, the executioner of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the co-sponsor of Israel's murderous attack on Lebanon, the arms dealer to the crooked Saudi dynasty, the detestable spear-carrier for the American Empire, and bag-carrier for Bush, to be the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East. The man is a disaster in general, and a catastrophe in specific.
That pretty much sums up Blair's legacy. Quite a lot to be "proud" of, eh?

Cartoon Time

Via Thoughts on the Eve of the Apocalypse:

Click the pix for the full-size view. Just for those curious as to why I tend to think there is barely a "left" in the US to begin with.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reminder: Today is Torture Awareness Day

The 2007 observance of the Day in Support of Victims of Torture coincides with the 26th anniversary of the UN voluntary fund for victims of torture.

Today is a good day to educate yourself about torture.

Check out a DVD (Road to Guantánamo).

Visit Witness Against Torture.

Read a book.

Sign a petition.

If you're a psychologist, sign an open letter to American Psychological Association president Sharon Brehm. I signed just a while back.

Walk in some torture victims' shoes. Done? Walk in another torture victim's shoes. The root of evil is lack of empathy, hence the importance of reminding our readers that those who survive being tortured are indeed actual human beings who suffer real long-term consequences.

Finally, as Death and the Maiden reminds us, torture awareness isn't a one-day-per-year kind of thing. Do what you can on a daily basis to raise the awareness of those in your community.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Along the border

By way of introduction, my friend Manny doesn't get nearly the blog traffic he deserves, especially when it comes to thoroughly and passionately covering one of the more pressing human rights crises of our times:
A deadly week in the Sonoran Desert
Border Patrol agents have found five dead illegal border crossers since Monday, including two Thursday in the Interstate 19 corridor.

The U.S. Border Patrol rescued an illegal immigrant Tuesday trapped in a 30-foot-deep well on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

The woman had climbed down to find water for her sister and her three nieces.

The five had been walking through the desert with four others for several days when the 29-year-old woman, her sister and her sister's daughters, age 6, 10 and 16, stopped because they had run out of water and were too weak to continue in the 112-degree heat, said Border Patrol spokesman Sean King.

Five women making their way to El Norte - only to find that the promised land was only a mirage. Instead of prosperity, what they found was dehydration; instead of survival, they were met with bee stings and anaphylactic shock.
Lost in the discussion of the influx of undocumented workers crossing the US-Mexico border is the influence of NAFTA (pushed through Congress during the first year of the Clinton regime), along with the draconian policies of WTO, IMF, and World Bank (glorified loan sharks):

In Mexico, “Poverty has risen by over 50 percent during the first four years of NAFTA and wages in the manufacturing sector have declined,” reports the Data Center.

A 2004 report published by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means states that “At least 1.5 million Mexican farmers lost their livelihoods to NAFTA.” The situation is only expected to worsen in 2008 when Mexico is required to comply with a NAFTA deadline to totally eliminate its corn and bean import tariffs. Many policy experts predicted that farmers displaced by NAFTA would migrate to the United States.

Indeed, a comparison of U.S. censuses of 1990 and 2000 shows “the number of Mexican-born residents in the United States increased by more than 80 percent,” states Jeff Faux in “How NAFTA Failed Mexico,” The American Prospect (July 3, 2003.) “Some half-million Mexicans come to the United States every year; roughly 60 percent of them are undocumented. The massive investments in both border guards and detection equipment have not diminished the migrant flow; they have just made it more dangerous. More than 1,600 Mexican migrants have died on the journey to the north.”

While NAFTA is responsible for the latest “migration hump,” it is not the sole culprit. Practices by bodies like the World Trade Organization, “along with the programs dictated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, have helped double the gap between rich and poor countries since 1960,” reports Noam Chomsky in The Nation. The ensuing foreign debt deprives these countries from accumulating capital to develop competitive industries and has lead to mass migration northward.

After NAFTA was passed by Congress in 1992, “the agreement raised concerns in the United States about immigration from south of the border,” according to “NAFTA, The Patriot Act and the New Immigration Backlash” by the American Anthropological Association. To counter the predicted influx of Latin Americans, President Bill Clinton signed The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. “The 1996 Welfare Reform bill included anti-immigrant and other measures that eliminated many social services for undocumented immigrants,” the report states. The current ICE raids are a result of these long term policies.

More recently the ethanol boom has further pushed Mexican (and Guatamalan) families to the starvation point, as the price of corn has skyrocketed. With nowhere to turn, folks make the dangerous trek through the Sonoran Desert in order to find work and to feed families. On that note, I'll close with a few more words from my amigo, Manny:
Until enough people "Get It" that the magnetic force of migration is due to utter desperation - the darkest night of the soul - the inner-most circles of mental hell - and not just some American™-prismed view that border-crossers don't respect our laws, then the deaths will continue unabated.

Imagine a situation where you had absolutely nothing. The system had completely screwed you and your family out of livelihood. Do you do what you need to do to survive? Or do you just give up?

I respect those who choose to cross the barren lands of their ancestors because they have chosen to live.

If you have some discretionary funds, please consider sending a donation to No More Deaths and Humane Borders - two organizations that understand that there is a disastrous human rights crisis occurring everyday in the Sonoran Desert. They are providing water stations and dignity to the victims of this economic war.

Your support is truly the difference between life and death. Especially now that the summer has arrived with a vengeance.