Nov. 12th, 2003

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This is all marvelous good stuff, but I'm still kinda traumatized by the bookmark thing, so I'm going to just put them out there.

Follow them back, if you have a minute.
Read More... )
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Looks as if at least one really bad man is out of politics, for now, at least.

The people of Guatemala, long plagued by war, corruption and poverty, have sent their former dictator into political retirement, and perhaps to a war crimes court, with a resounding vote against him, election returns showed Monday.

With about two-thirds of the vote counted, the old dictator, retired Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, was trailing badly behind the former mayor of Guatemala City, Oscar Berger, 57, a wealthy and conservative businessman, and Álvaro Colom, 52, a textiles executive.

Mr. Colom is a political centrist with some leftist support. He is one of very few outsiders to qualify as a shaman in Mayan spiritual practices.

Mr. Berger and Mr. Colom face a runoff election on Dec. 28.

In incomplete returns, Mr. Berger had 39 percent of the vote, Mr. Colom 28 percent, and Mr. Ríos Montt 17 percent; eight minor candidates split the remainder.

Voters in Guatemala City, the capital, crushed Mr. Ríos Montt's candidacy, giving him about one vote in ten. He won perhaps one vote in four in the countryside, despite a major mobilization by President Alfonso Portillo's governing party, the Guatemalan Republican Front, which backed his candidacy.

The right-wing governing party, which some voters on Sunday said ran the most corrupt and least effective government they had known, appeared to be losing control of Congress as the results trickled in. The returns also showed leftist candidates receiving little popular support nationwide.

Whoever ultimately wins Guatemala's presidency will confront a longstanding legacy of repression by the military, and the new challenge of organized crime cliques that hold great sway and control shipments of Colombian cocaine bound for the United States.

The new leader will also face the question of what to do about Mr. Ríos Montt, 77, the living emblem of 36 years of civil war in which close to 200,000 people died, almost all at the hands of the military.

The general took power in a coup in 1982 and led a military junta for 18 months. In that time, many thousands of peasants were killed as the army pursued small bands of leftist guerrillas.

Mr. Ríos Montt stands accused of crimes against humanity by human rights groups, and government officials in Guatemala and Spain are weighing those charges. The immunity from prosecution that he enjoys as a member of Congress will end with his term of office in January. But human rights advocates in Guatemala raise such charges at their peril; at least 18 have been killed in the past three years.

Mr. Ríos Montt still looks down from thousands of campaign posters and banners fluttering in the breeze. But the general disappeared from public view after casting his vote on Sunday to shouts from Guatemalan voters of "Get lost!" and "Assassin!"...
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"On this Veterans Day, with our nation at war, Americans are deeply aware of the current military struggle and of recent sacrifice," said President Bush. "Young Americans have died in liberating Iraq and Afghanistan."

"They did not live to be called veterans, but this nation will never forget their lives of service and all they did for us," Bush said at the ceremonial placing of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

But at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, gray-haired men and women in floppy boonie hats and faded green battle fatigues worried aloud that a new generation of veterans is being forged in a war as unwinnable as their own.

"I'm seeing similarities," said Dan O'Neill, a retired state worker from Harrisburg, Pa., who served three tours in Vietnam. "They're facing guerrilla activity in Iraq like we faced in the early years. They don't know who they're fighting, either. You see a farmer waving in a field and you don't know whether it's because he likes you or because he's signaling comrades in the distance that you're coming."

"They can't speak the language. They can't tell friend from foe," said Harry Rough, a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam who now lives in Ellwood City, N.J.

"These poor guys now don't even have chopper support. We always had gunships overhead," said Lou Marcello, who served with the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam and sees his old unit in action in Iraq now. "We ain't going to win that war. It's going to be another Vietnam. There won't be 58,000 people killed, but there will be thousands."

"I don't think we should be there," said Richard Wright, who served in the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. "At the beginning, I was behind the president 100 percent. But the truth wasn't told."

The veterans stressed that they support the U.S. troops in Iraq but expressed skepticism about the politicians who sent them there. Of a dozen veterans interviewed at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, none expressed outright support for the war in Iraq.

"During my second tour in Vietnam, I sent my mother a letter saying that 'I wish all those fat-ass congressmen would put their butts in the war,' " said Pat Hill-Vandermolen, who served as a nurse in the 2nd Surgical Hospital in Chu Lai. "I feel that way now."

Having celebrated a reunion of comrades, the nurse from Leesburg, Va., told how she went to Hanoi four years ago and adopted a baby boy. If only people who had survived war were allowed to send others to the next war, she said, "we wouldn't go" as readily.

"We support our troops. . . . But our government has put us in over our heads in this one," said Kate O'Hare-Palmer, another Vietnam veteran nurse who came to the reunion from Petaluma, Calif. On the back of her fatigue jacket, she had pinned a sign saying, "We Cared for Our Troops Then. We Still Care. Bring Them Home."
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To homeless children sleeping on the street, neon is as comforting as a night-light. Angels love colored light too. After nightfall in downtown Miami, they nibble on the NationsBank building -- always drenched in a green, pink, or golden glow. "They eat light so they can fly," eight-year-old Andre tells the children sitting on the patio of the Salvation Army's emergency shelter on NW 38th Street. Andre explains that the angels hide in the building while they study battle maps. "There's a lot of killing going on in Miami," he says. "You want to fight, want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories." The small group listens intently to these tales told by homeless children in shelters.

On Christmas night a year ago, God fled Heaven to escape an audacious demon attack -- a celestial Tet Offensive. The demons smashed to dust his palace of beautiful blue-moon marble. TV news kept it secret, but homeless children in shelters across the country report being awakened from troubled sleep and alerted by dead relatives. No one knows why God has never reappeared, leaving his stunned angels to defend his earthly estate against assaults from Hell. "Demons found doors to our world," adds eight-year-old Miguel, who sits before Andre with the other children at the Salvation Army shelter. The demons' gateways from Hell include abandoned refrigerators, mirrors, Ghost Town (the nickname shelter children have for a cemetery somewhere in Dade County), and Jeep Cherokees with "black windows." The demons are nourished by dark human emotions: jealousy, hate, fear.

One demon is feared even by Satan. In Miami shelters, children know her by two names: Bloody Mary and La Llorona (the Crying Woman). She weeps blood or black tears from ghoulish empty sockets and feeds on children's terror. When a child is killed accidentally in gang crossfire or is murdered, she croons with joy. "If you wake at night and see her," a ten-year-old says softly, "her clothes be blowing back, even in a room where there is no wind. And you know she's marked you for killing."

The homeless children's chief ally is a beautiful angel they have nicknamed the Blue Lady. She has pale blue skin and lives in the ocean, but she is hobbled by a spell. "The demons made it so she only has power if you know her secret name," says Andre, whose mother has been through three rehabilitation programs for crack addiction. "If you and your friends on a corner on a street when a car comes shooting bullets and only one child yells out her true name, all will be safe. Even if bullets tearing your skin, the Blue Lady makes them fall on the ground. She can talk to us, even without her name. She says: 'Hold on.'"

A blond six-year-old with a bruise above his eye, swollen huge as a ruby egg and laced with black stitches, nods his head in affirmation. "I've seen her," he murmurs. A rustle of whispered Me toos ripples through the small circle of initiates.

According to the Dade Homeless Trust, approximately 1800 homeless children currently find themselves bounced between the county's various shelters and the streets. For these children, lasting bonds of friendship are impossible; nothing is permanent. A common rule among homeless parents is that everything a child owns must fit into a small plastic bag for fast packing. But during their brief stays in the shelters, children can meet and tell each other stories that get them through the harshest nights.

Folktales are usually an inheritance from family or homeland. But what if you are a child enduring a continual, grueling, dangerous journey? No adult can steel such a child against the outcast's fate: the endless slurs and snubs, the threats, the fear. What these determined children do is snatch dark and bright fragments of Halloween fables, TV news, and candy-colored Bible-story leaflets from street-corner preachers, and like birds building a nest from scraps, weave their own myths. The "secret stories" are carefully guarded knowledge, never shared with older siblings or parents for fear of being ridiculed -- or spanked for blasphemy. But their accounts of an exiled God who cannot or will not respond to human pleas as his angels wage war with Hell is, to shelter children, a plausible explanation for having no safe home, and one that engages them in an epic clash.

ed: via [ profile] bigscary
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There is, on dit, an election coming up.

I plan to vote for the candidate of the party to which I am registered for national office.

It is entirely possible that I won't like everything about that person. I'm going to have to swallow that pill. I'm a single-issue voter, and my issue is not having the Republican party in control of all three branches of government.

If you're at all interested, I will explain to you at some length with helpful illustrative examples why I believe that's important.

Undoubtedly some folks will find my reasoning wrong or insufficient.

Because I am a single-issue voter, I will believe (in pursuit of my single issue) that these people are mistaken.

This, at the current time, is the sensibility that informs what I have to say here.

I'm advocating, and I've never pretended to be anything like a non-partisan advocate. If your candidate has the snake below his or her feet and the kingdoms of the earth spread beneath them, and they don't win the primary of the Democratic party, they are irrelevant to my calculations.

If your goal is to defeat the candidate I support and who I believe has the best shot at salvaging what's left after the last three years, I will very sincerely hope that you fail to achieve your goal. That's as personal as this gets. This is a democracy and the system works that way.

This is triage, and somebody's got to make a decision. Well, I have. It may not be right, but I've made it.

For what it's worth, I've generally found that people who are offended by that tend to have a different single issue than I.

I don't think my single issue gives me a moral edge.

I don't think yours does either.

Can we leave endlessly refighting the old wars to the neoconfederates? I know it can be terribly satisfying, and it's a nice safe place with no surprises, but the future's not going to stop coming because we're not watching for it.

Everyone is trying to get to the bar.
The name of the bar, the bar is called Heaven.
The band in Heaven plays my favorite song.
They play it once again, they play it all night long.

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

There is a party, everyone is there.
Everyone will leave at exactly the same time.
Its hard to imagine that nothing at all
could be so exciting, and so much fun.

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

When this kiss is over it will start again.
It will not be any different, it will be exactly the same.
It's hard to imagine that nothing at all
could be so exciting, could be so much fun.

Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.

um. er.

Nov. 12th, 2003 10:47 pm
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Could someone tell my why anyone wants to know if Richard Myers (General Myers is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) is jewish? I've been getting google hits on that all afternoon.
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