1/31/2017

Note from Bhutan's Chancellor

On behalf of the King and peoples of Bhutan I wish to express our concern and worry for the corruption and human rights abuses in the USA. It is our sincere hope that you hold a national dialogue between the government and the opposition. I also regret to inform you that Americans trying to flee will be turned back at the Bhutan border. 
I also wish to inform you that King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the 5th Druk Gyalpo. has agreed to visit the USA and attend, together with your President Trump, a cricket game between the USA and Bhutan national teams, to establish closer ties between the two countries. 
King Jigme and Queen Jetsun Pema 
Queen Jetsun Pema and young Prince Jigme will visit the USA at the same time, with Disney World, Universal Studios, and a Las Vegas circus show being the highlights of their visit to top US cultural attractions. 
The King has expressed his wish to avoid interfering in internal US politics, and prefers to see all dissidents kept away from their Highnesses’s presence. However, he has agreed to a private audience with opposition leader Scarlett Johanson.
Note: Bhutan is a key importer of USA coal, used clothes, and empty shipping containers. It is interested in increasing exports to the USA of Bhutanese products to reduce the current trade deficit between the two nations. Should this trend fail to be reversed his highness is considering a 20 % import tax on all USA products.

Further Reading: Diary of a Time Traveling Antiwar Protestor

1/30/2017

2001 speech by a Palestinian woman

Adnan Hashrawi gave this speech at a Human Rights conference in Durban, South Africa, in late August of 2001.  I consider this one of the best political speeches ever given by a woman. 

Map of Israel and whatever is Palestine 

Given the abuses of Palestinian rights we continue to see, and as small measure to balance the damage caused by Trump's ugly behavior, I've decided to post it here. Speech follows:

Sisters and Brothers,

From Jerusalem, from the heart of Palestine, a land besieged, and repeatedly violated by a most brutal Israeli military occupation, I have come to join you today.  From the midst of the people of Palestine, a tortured nation, guilty only of an unwavering commitment to freedom, dignity, and independence, I have come to join you today. From the depths of unredeemed history, I have come to join you today.  I represent a narrative of exclusion, denial, racism, and national victimization, but I also come with a message of hope, redemption, and historical vindication embodied in the spirit and the will of a people that has refused to succumb to all forces of oppression, violence, cruelty, and injustice.

In convening this conference, you are the authentic embodiment of courage in withstanding the forces of domination, subjugation, and enslavement.  We stand together today to launch a truly global mission of  empowerment and solidarity, to give voice to the silenced, to give a reality to the invisible, to give recognition to the denied, and to give credence to the victimized.

In times of adversity, and during the darkest nights of the soul, we look to you for affirmation and action as an antidote to the failure of established power systems, including governments  a failure characterized by self- interest, power politics, absence of will, and impotence.  I take this opportunity to recognize before you those valiant men and women who had left the comfort of their homes in Europe and the US and joined us in Palestine to provide popular protection, a human shield in the face of Israeli abuses, violence, and violations against the Palestinian people.

I come to you today with a heavy heart leaving behind a nation in captivity held hostage to an ongoing Nakba [catastrophe], as the most intricate and pervasive expression of persistent colonialism, apartheid, racism, and victimization.

More than half a century ago [53 years], the Palestinians as a people were slated for national obliteration, cast outside the course of history, their identity denied, and their very human cultural and historical reality suppressed.  We became victims of the myth of a land without a people for people without a land whereby the West sought to assuage its guilt over its horrendous anti-Semitism by the total victimization of a whole nation.  Zionism sought to implement its agenda of exclusivity by usurping not only the lands and rights of the Palestinians, but also by confiscating their utterance

1/24/2017

Venezuela's Currency and its new Syrian Vicepresident

Nicolás just fired his Central Bank President, Nelson Merentes, because the guy botched the issuance of new larger denomination bills. Inflation is so high the largest bill will be the 20 thousand bolivar note. The largest note has been the 100 bolivar, now worth 2 1/2 cents. 

Merentes wasn't blamed for the 800-1000% inflation rate, because Maduro was told inflation is caused by a webpage run by an old Venezuelan who works at Home Depot in Atlanta, Georgia (this is for real, it's not a joke).

The guy Maduro blames for causing Venezuela's hyperinflation   

When the government came up with their plan to switch notes they also created regulations to force people to use electronic banking. But poor people don't have bank accounts, Internet, etc. I remember reading articles by economic gurus a couple of months ago that Maduro's plan was based on the success of what Modi was doing in India. 

The ex-central bank president, Merentes, will now retire to his beachside fiefdom at Naiguatá, where he has been keeping a stable of teenage girls who have had plastic surgery to enhance their goodies. 

Also in the news, the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled the Constitution was wrong, and that Syrian citizen and executive Vice President, Tarek el Aisami, is eligible to be president.  

Meanwhile I hear Mr Bernie Sanders is still praising the Castros and the Bolivarian revolution, and the Pope keeps asking for world leaders to stop global warming. 

1/22/2017

Trump versus Chavez

The Venezuelan political system was never as strong as the USA system. Comparing the two is like comparing a chicken to a rhinoceros. I also sense that, behind his populist language, Trump has a very sophisticated perception of the world. Maybe this perception doesn’t jibe with the western ruling elite’s, but it makes sense to me.


The point where I’m really disconnected from Trumpism is the proposal to move the USA embassy to Jerusalem. But I really like his proposal to ratchet down tension with Russia, that’s a key move the USA needs to make before it can move forcefully to deal with the mess Bush and Obama created in the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan.

1/15/2017

Philosophy

I’m an engineer, born in Cuba, educated in a USA university before they degenerated in the early 21st century, and to be honest I'm not well educated in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Art, or things like that.
So I’m not sure who most of the great philosophers are. I study history, but I focus more on the broad sweep of things, the wars, the way the maps changed, how populations changed over the centuries as territories were conquered and ethnic cleansing took place. 
I don’t know what a “philosophical conversation” is about. I know that conversing with a committed Marxist or a religious extremist (of any religion) is fairly useless. 
Lately I’ve been debating myself as to whether this universe is like this because it’s one of many, and we simply evolved to adapt to what was available, or whether we are in a computer simulation with a faulty source code. 
The Parthenon (Athens, Greece) 
I remember visiting Greece, looking at their statues and admiring the way the Parthenon columns slanted just right, and thinking about the thousands of slaves who worked in hell holes, to get the silver which made that architectural genius emerge as if by magic. That’s about as philosophical as I can get.

1/13/2017

Diary of a Time Traveling Antiwar Protestor

This is the diary written by a traveler from the 20th Century, specifically from 1967. This traveler wasn´t part of a scientific expedition, but the innocent victim of a time warp, a phenomenon of incomprehensible origin which strikes humans once in a while, but which remain under recorded by the complete lack of proof proffered by those who travel through time and manage to survive.

Diary Text Follows:

We planned for months the protest of October 21st (that´s in 1967).  We met and read about Vietnam, some brought letters written by friends stuck over there, others exchanged notes on how to escape the draft, get a deferment, whether to get a chick pregnant with triplets was feasible, the trip to Canada….and rolled joints.

The protest movement wasn´t exactly invented by an ingenious brain. It was well advertised, but it hardly needed it: the seductive nature, and the energy behind it, came from the simple fact that most of the participants were middle class kids who didn´t want to go die or lose their legs to make Vietnam free for democracy. There was a lot of talk about the poor Vietnamese, but that was the cover. Nobody really cared for gooks, especially anti American commie gooks who dressed in black and stuck sharp bamboo sticks under prisoners´ toe nails.

On October 20th we formed a convoy to get to the Pentagon. I was greatly surprised to see so many elderly people—some of them were as old as 50. Most of them were parents of prospective draftees, although some of them seemed to be radical college professors, the same guys who taught us that dropping LSD was liberating, and that free love ensured a healthy future.

Typical anti Vietnam War demonstrators in 1967

That day we hit the road I felt we were on our way to a great adventure. Boy was I way off the mark. . It was wonderful to escape our daily routine, and I especially enjoyed having sprinkle donuts with strong coffee brought by one of the older couples. I was satisfied with the picnic atmosphere until, early on the 21st,  we got close to the Pentagon, and we disembarked next to a crowd of rowdy characters chanting antiwar slogans.  At that time I wished to be elsewhere. I saw the faces of my travel companions, and they too seemed a bit lost. After all, we were a very civilized group, we just wanted to avoid going to Vietnam, and we had mixed in with a crowd which appeared ready to burn the Pentagon to ashes. It just didn´t seem right.

So as we approached the Pentagon and saw the tear gas cloud, our small group huddled under a tree, and debated whether to get involved in the fight. And then we saw it: a supernatural light coming from above, a spooky fog, and the ground began to shake.

Next thing we knew, we were all laid on the ground next to the same tree, but the crowd had disappeared. We shook ourselves out of our slumber, and stared at the cars going by…they were small, egg shaped, and lacked the customary tail fins. We also noticed a few people walking across the boulevard…heads down, talking to a small object they held in their hands, which seemed to answer and occasionally drove them to touch it as if they were typing.

I also noticed the sky was gray. Much grayer than it had been hours before. And it was definitely much colder than usual for October in Washington DC, about 30 degrees F  (later I would find we had time traveled to the winter of 2017, and that the planet´s average surface temperature had increased one degree F, so I imagine that day the temperature would have been 29 degrees F or even lower if global warming hadn´t happened).

We walked down the avenue until we found a kindly old man, who looked at us and smiled “Those dyed tied down T-shirts sure look like the ones I used to wear 50 years ago”.

 I whispered to my friends the guy was a bit goofy, and my companions seemed to agree, so we ignored him. But then he took a small rectangular object out of his pocket and asked us if he could take “a selfie with you guys”. We were a bit confused, but decided to humor him, stood in a tight group around him, and dutifully smiled as he said “Cheese” and held the small gadget up in the air.

 At that point I got a glimpse of our image printed on the gadget´s surface, and that´s  when I began to realize that something was really wrong. So I asked him if he could explain how the device worked.

The old man answered “I´m not sure, I got this for my birthday present.  I´m just a social sciences college professor teaching “Climate Change Communicational Strategy” and “Micro-aggression Avoidance” in the School of Engineering”.

As you can imagine, we were quite confused.