The latest In These Times arrived via mail Tuesday. We've already noted Naomi Klein's "How to End the War" a few days ago. So let's note the cover story, By Nicolas Bérubé and Benoit Aquin's "Chiquita's Children:"
Carlos Alberto Rodriguez sits prostrate in his rocking chair all day, from dawn to dusk. At first view it looks like this ex-plantation worker--young to be retired, at the age of 55--is giving his body a much-deserved rest after a lifetime of hard work, in which 14-hour days and six-day weeks were the norm. But when he took his retirement nine years ago, Rodriguez's health quickly deteriorated. First he lost his memory, then his ability to speak, and finally, his capacity to engage in any way with the people around him.
Today, Rodriguez, reputed to have been a jovial bon vivant, is unable to walk or take care of himself. His wife Membreño stopped working in order to care for him. She spoon feeds him and washes him daily; she addresses him like one would a newborn.
For 23 years, Rodriguez irrigated the fields of the Chinandega area, the most important banana region in Nicaragua. His job was to ensure that the pesticide used at the time, Nemagon, was distributed uniformly over the entire surface of the fields. It was a meticulous assignment that he performed dutifully, without thinking for one minute that the fine whitish mist that fell atop the banana plants every dawn was in fact one of the most dangerous poisons ever created. A pesticide so toxic that it was banned from use in its country of conception, the United States, where today those responsible for public health believe it should never have been put into circulation.
We'll note the second part of Salim Muwakkil's look into the African-American clergy. This installment is entitled "Black Clergy Rebuff Bush:"
During the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Rev. Al Sampson helped to organize Chicago’s Black Mobilization Committee Against the War and regularly opened his church to anti-war rallies and other progressive actions. His Fernwood United Methodist Church, on Chicago’s far South Side, showed films like Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Fahrenheit 9/11.
And Sampson's church is just one of many in Chicago that aggressively confronts the Bush administration’s cynical attempt to capture black mind share with its focus on God, gays and vouchers.
As I noted in my last column, the GOP is trying to hitch a ride on Christian piety into the black community. But that ride is getting rather bumpy. In January, an unprecedented gathering of the nation’s four largest black Baptist groups issued a joint statement that basically repudiated the thrust of the GOP's outreach efforts. The group gave short shrift to issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, heavily pushed by Bush's evangelical supporters.
Ben Terrall's "Democracy’s Death: Haitian dissidents find themselves the targets of massive repression" is worth noting:
In sync with its grandiose claims about building democracy in the Middle East, the Bush administration is promoting new elections in Haiti in October and November as the great hope for the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, while Washington provides diplomatic, political and military support for the Haitian government of Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, hooded police and death squads are systematically repressing political supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide's Lavalas Party is still the Haitian political organization with the most popular support by a large margin. Months after the February 29, 2004, coup that drove Aristide from office, Conrad Tribble of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince conceded, "If there were an election held today, Lavalas would win." But today, Lavalas partisans can barely go outdoors safely, while the right-wing paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, who was trained by U.S. Special Forces in Ecuador in the '90s, has launched his own political party, the Front for National Reconstruction.
In the beginning of February 2004, Philippe led U.S.-trained paramilitaries across the border from the Dominican Republic in attacks on Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haitien. Also directing the paramilitary attacks was Louis-Jodel Chamblain, former second-in-command of the Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress, an anti-Lavalas death squad that the CIA helped create in 1993. In the following two weeks, these forces emptied Haiti's prisons; among those set free were anti-Aristide death squad veterans from the 1991–1994 coup period. The new regime has now filled the jails with government officials, teachers and Lavalas supporters.
Lastly, we'll note House Rep. Bernie Sanders' "Remote Control:"
In recent years, the Republican leadership has used unprecedented measures to crush dissent in Congress. During the recent passage of the Bankruptcy Bill, for example, no opposition amendments were allowed on the floor of the House--effectively silencing public debate of the bill.
Perhaps the most blatant example of intolerance for dissenting viewpoints, however, comes from Bush himself, who is currently traveling the country holding "town meetings" on his Social Security privatization plan. Despite the fact that these ostensibly public meetings are paid for by taxpayers, American citizens who disagree with Bush are not allowed to attend.
It is in this context of an overall attack on dissenting opinions that the effort to censor cable and satellite TV becomes truly frightening. This is not simply about cleaning up offensive content; it is about the extreme right wing pushing to limit the free exchange of ideas. The time has come for all Americans who love freedom to let the government know that they don’t want Uncle Sam turning into Big Brother.
There are many other articles and columns worth reading so remember these were highlights.
We'll also note the following as soon as it's available:
Light and Solidarity
By Erin Mosely
Susan Plum is challenging the Mexican government’s massive failure to effectively investigate and halt the killing spree in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which has taken the lives of more than 370… This article will be available soon.
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