Sunday, February 21, 2010

on joe (joseph) stack

The article Terrorism: The Most Meaningless and Manipulated Word by Glenn Greenwald takes a look at the Joseph Stack incident and uses it to underline some of the hypocrisy behind how the term "terrorist" is used today (to delegitimize Muslims).

When I first read about Joseph Stack flying a plane into an Austin office building which housed the local IRS office I pretty much saw him as a Tea Party terrorist. After reading the Joseph Stack Manifesto I have to admit that he does have some left-wing elements to his "ideology" but on balance he seems more like an ordinary "Joe" who has had a series of frustrating Kafka-esque experiences with the bureaucratic IRS. At the same time,there do seem to be some tea party types embracing him as an American hero after the fact.

In any case, even if this particular incident isn't the responsibility of someone clearly in the Tea Party camp, there have certainly been other warning signs that anti-Obama conservative backlash has been becoming more and more aggressive and has the potential for moving in violent directions. (see pray for obama and the murder of george tiller)

See also: I Am Not Saying Joe Stack Is A Teabagger, But He’s A Little Teaish By Casey Gane-McCalla

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

more on tato laviera

It made me terribly sad to hear about Tato's condition and I'm passing this along in hopes that it does some good:

Dear Colleagues,

I write to you with some urgency. You may have heard about Tato
Laviera’s condition. Recently, he had a brain operation to put a shunt
in his brain. Since then, he has been asked to leave his current
residence and is homeless. The attached New York Times article
explains his condition. Please give whatever you can to help provide
Tato with an apartment.

Send your contributions to:
Jesus Laviera
c/o Sanchez-Ramos
225 E. 93rd St. Apt. 8 H
New York, NY 10128



William Luis
Chancellor's Professor of Spanish
Editor, Afro-Hispanic Review
VU Box 351617 Station B
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, Tennessee 37235-1617

tato laviera

Poet Spans Two Worlds, but Has a Home in Neither
February 12, 2010

His poems, in countless anthologies and five of his own collections, are considered part of the Latino literary canon. His plays and lectures have earned him honors etched in flowery superlatives on plaques. But Tato Laviera would rather possess a more prosaic document, written in legalese.

A lease.

Mr. Laviera has known his share of troubles in recent years, including diabetes, blindness and dialysis. But in December, life became infinitely more complicated when he underwent emergency brain surgery. Too unsteady to return to his Greenwich Village apartment, he checked into a nursing home for physical therapy.

Two weeks later, he fled.

“You could feel the drugs in the old people, in their sentiments, and I knew that was not Laviera,” he said. “But when my foot hit the sidewalk outside the nursing home, at that moment I knew I was homeless. The honors I had didn’t mean anything anymore.”

Poets, even widely published ones, do not exactly roll in cash. Now, at 59, Mr. Laviera is struggling to find an affordable apartment in the city that has been his home since he moved here from Puerto Rico in 1960.

He has reached out for help to almost a dozen community and housing groups — some of whom were generous with praise but little else. Only one, United Bronx Parents, came to his aid. Lorraine Montenegro, its director, put him in a temporary room at a transitional shelter on Prospect Avenue. She saw it not as a favor, but her duty.

“I just think that when our writers and singers and artists run into hard times, we have to be there for them,” she said. “We can’t forget them. The community that has enjoyed their work for so long has to say, ‘Presente.’ ”

She lamented how fans in the city can be fickle when it comes to helping artists once the spotlight dims. Guadalupe Victoria Yoli Raymond — better known as La Lupe — went from being the Queen of Latin Soul to a destitute existence in the South Bronx. Héctor Lavoe, the Singer of Singers, wasted away penniless in a hospital on the edge of El Barrio, where his songs had once been the soundtrack to daily life.

Since emerging in the early 1980s, Mr. Laviera has been acknowledged as a singular voice whose life and work bridge New York and Puerto Rico. His writings, which pulse to the flowing rhythms of Spanish and English, deal with the tug of allegiances to culture and home, as well as race and language.

Juan Flores, a New York University professor and an early champion, said Mr. Laviera had influenced many others who came after him, “whether they admit it or not.”

“I found his best poetry to be a jewel of New York Puerto Rican expression,” Mr. Flores said. “His way of putting together the relationship between the island and the diaspora was more finely tuned and deeper than others. He took head on the issues of assimilation and cultural preservation and innovation.”

Though seen by some critics as past his prime, Mr. Laviera has kept himself in the public eye by teaching, lecturing and staging “sugar slams,” poetry events to raise awareness about the ravages of diabetes among minorities.

His own health problems deepened one day in December when he suddenly listed to the side and began to fall. Paula La Costa, who had shared her apartment with him since 2004, caught him before he hit the floor. Water on the brain was diagnosed, and the emergency surgery installed a shunt to drain the fluid. But it left him with difficulty moving his left leg.

Both he and Ms. La Costa agreed that he would need a place that was easier to maneuver around. He entered a nursing home, but soon grew alarmed at being surrounded by what he saw as people who were no longer engaged in life, but medicated and killing time.

“I just could not do that,” he said. “So I called my sister and asked her to liberate me.”

But relatives are not able to give him a long-term home. Besides, his urgency comes not just from needing a place to sleep, but a place to write. After a fallow period, his literary output resumed with the 2008 publication of “Mixturao and Other Poems,” his first new poetry collection in almost 20 years. He just completed the 700-page manuscript of a novel, “El Barrio.”

While he earns royalties from his books and anthologized poems, he has left the money untouched, hoping to tap it as a pension when he retires from teaching and touring. His income, he said, is limited. Just like his housing choices.

“It’s not like I’m looking to be subsidized in the realm of upper-middle-class elegance and comfort,” he said. “The terminology for me is ‘affordable.’ And in this city more and more people are just being moved out. My situation has given me whole new affinity for them.

“My eyes are thoroughly open.”

When he started looking for an apartment, he thought he could cash in some of the good will he had earned from a lifetime of community workshops and readings. Among those he approached were several politicians and advocacy groups in East Harlem, the setting of his novel.

The result? He answered with silence and a smile.

“I decided to come to the mainland,” he said. “The Bronx.”

While Ms. Montenegro searches for permanent housing, Mr. Laviera is settling in at the shelter. Over the last week he has slowly moved his belongings into a small room near the entrance of the building, known as Casita Esperanza, or Little House of Hope.

He becomes animated when he talks about his new neighbors, whom he hears as they walk past his room. He has already enlisted some to rehearse his play “Chupacabra Sightings.” He plans to give poetry readings.

“This has opened me up to even more feeling,” he said. “I can create here, and that makes me feel liberated. Being here has given me the spirit of continuity and centrality, and that’s better than a salary.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

worst. company. ever.

Just yesterday I thought I'd check out the online journal In These Times and instead got a Page Not Found error message from Comcast (I'm a subscriber). At first I started to wonder if In These Times had suddenly gone out of business but then I eventually realized that Comcast was deliberately blocking In These Times because because of the articles:

Comcast Launches ‘TV Everywhere’: Say Goodbye to Free Web TV — In These Times
and also: Comcast: Worst. Company. Ever.

It is a small reminder of the dangers of corporations and the limitations (and censorship) of corporate media. It makes me wonder how the current story of Toyota's car acceleration problems would be covered if Toyota was American-owned.

More on Comcast from The Consumerist

Sunday, February 07, 2010

tom tancredo starts off the tea party convention by looking back to the good old days of literacy tests

mami el negro (el africano) part two

Out of historical interest and a desire for completeness, here is THE ORIGINAL version of "El Africano" (which is the only one I've heard with a female vocalist)

And an interview with Calixto Ochoa about the story behind the song:

See also:
mami el negro esta rabioso (el africano)

all terrorists are muslims... except the 94% that aren't

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group, From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI Database

Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil by Group,
From 1980 to 2005, According to FBI database

A couple of interesting links:
From Loonwatch: All Terrorists are Muslims... Except the 94% that Aren't summarizes an updated FBI report of terrorist acts on US soil. As you can see for yourself from the above pie graph, among the counter-stereotypical results are: 1) Only 6% of the terrorist acts on US soil in the period covered were committed by Muslims. 2) In fact, slightly more terrorist acts were committed by Jewish groups. And finally, 3) the largest category of groups associated with acts of terrorism in the US is apparently Latino! (although this includes both far-right anti-Castro terrorist groups and left-leaning pro-Puerto Rican independence groups)

Also CNN recently reported in Study: Threat of Muslim-American terrorism in U.S. exaggerated the results of a study funded by the Department of Justice which looks at how to prevent the radicalization of Muslim youth in America. The original study can be found at: Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans

And finally, Stephen M. Walt gives one of the more candid answers to the "Why Do They Hate Us?" question in his article: Why they hate us (ii): How many Muslims has the US killed in the past 30 years?

hat tip to the Anonymous Arabist

Monday, February 01, 2010

imam luqman had been hadcuffed and shot 21 times

January 30, 2010. Late last night Fox news of southeastern Michigan reported they had uncovered confidential information into the autopsy report of Imam Luqman. After ninety-days of requests by the community, appeals by politicians and community leaders and many articles and press, the community gets some answers.

Fox revealed that the Imam was shot 21 times including the chest and the back. Most of the shots were below the waist and even in the groin area. They reported he was handcuffed.

There are some speculations by Fox as to why he might have been shot in the back, but also to what really happened to the dog. They raise suspicions by saying that "how do we know that the dog wasn't killed by a shot by the FBI." There is no known report of a necropsy conducted on the dog to help establish fact.

The Police Chief in Dearborn, Michigan will have a press conference on Monday, February 1, 2010 at 10:30 AM.

There are still many unanswered questions. Given the autopsy results, surely more questions will be raised.

see also:
remembering imam luqman