Tuesday, September 06, 2005

YWA on hold

This isn't working very well, is it? I'm simply unable to find the time and money to keep up the blog at this point. I apologize, but I'm going to have to suspend blogging for the time I'm teaching here in Mexico.

It turns out that the situation is very different from what we were led to believe. The company who placed us made it sound like the students were learning English in school and were paying the company employing us for lessons outside school, essentially for conversational purposes. In fact, the students don't get English classes in school. That's where we come in - to fill that hole - for those who can afford it, of course.

I was lucky enough to have only two afternoon classes until yesterday when another class was added. The other teacher here in Peribán has four afternoon classes. Fortunately for us, neither has any morning classes yet. We've been told that adults will often wait until after Independence Day (September 16) to enroll - for what reason, I can't tell you. Neither of us speaks much Spanish, and while the other teacher definitely understands more than I do, she sometimes doesn't get the details. The company that placed us also told us that the director of the school speaks English - she does not - and that the Peribán secretary understands and speaks a little - she does not. We rely on various neighbors whom we see from time to time that speak a little English to help us get around. The only school personnel who speak English are in a town some distance from us, and since we don't have a telephone or fax yet, it's kind of tricky.

We have different levels of courses, so that we spend a lot of time preparing detailed outlines of each class. There's no time between classes to do anything but collect our frazzled wits and greet the next class, which has a different coursework - unlike "normal" teachers, who generally teach one course to numerous classes. Very challenging. So far, we spend most of the day and long hours into the night preparing. Maybe it will get easier.

At any rate, all I can manage at the internet cafe is to check my email and glance at the news. I thought I might be able to download and work at home, as I mentioned in an earlier post, but that's not happening.

My sincere apologies to those of you who have stuck with YWA. As I've said before, the links in the sidebar are to excellent blogs and sources. Please use them.

Many thanks, and many blessings.


And for those of you who would like to be informed if and when YWA cranks up again, please send me an email with your email address at: ywaciv at yahoo.com

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Meanwhile in Iraq

In the largest urban assault since the siege of Fallujah last November, more than 5,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops entered this northern city before dawn Friday. But the 45-minute firefight at day's end suggested that the insurgents who have controlled much of Tall Afar for almost a year would not relinquish it easily.

  MSNBC article

Chávez offers aid to America's poor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered to send food and fuel to the United States after the powerful Hurricane Katrina pummeled the US south, ravaging US crude production.

The leftist leader, a frequent critic of the United States and a target himself of US disapproval, said Venezuela could send aid workers with drinking water, food and fuel to US communities hit by the hurricane.

"We place at the disposition of the people of the United States in the event of shortages -- we have drinking water, food, we can provide fuel," Chavez told reporters.

Chavez said fuel could be sent to the United States via a Citgo refinery that has not been affected by the hurricane. Citgo is owned by Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).


Last week, Chavez offered discount gasoline to poor Americans suffering from high oil prices and on Sunday offered free eye surgery for Americans without access to health care.

  Agence France via Radio Left blog

New Orleans update

Apparently things went from bad to worse. We don't have TV here. Well, we have a TV, and we have a cable. We just don't have any service. Supposedly we'll get it some day. Probably whenever they get us a telephone line.

I wonder if Mr. War President won't yet get to preside over a big war: at home.

I'm sure you are getting more news about what's happening in New Orleans that I am, so there's not much point in posting any links to any stories of the human disaster it is. So I'll just throw in somem commentaries.

Paul Krugman, not surprisingly, criticizes the current administration.
Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans. "The New Orleans hurricane scenario," The Houston Chronicle wrote in December 2001, "may be the deadliest of all." It described a potential catastrophe very much like the one now happening.

So why were New Orleans and the nation so unprepared? After 9/11, hard questions were deferred in the name of national unity, then buried under a thick coat of whitewash. This time, we need accountability.

First question: Why have aid and security taken so long to arrive?


There will and should be many questions about the response of state and local governments; in particular, couldn't they have done more to help the poor and sick escape? But the evidence points, above all, to a stunning lack of both preparation and urgency in the federal government's response.

Even military resources in the right place weren't ordered into action. "On Wednesday," said an editorial in The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., "reporters listening to horrific stories of death and survival at the Biloxi Junior High School shelter looked north across Irish Hill Road and saw Air Force personnel playing basketball and performing calisthenics. Playing basketball and performing calisthenics!"

Maybe administration officials believed that the local National Guard could keep order and deliver relief. But many members of the National Guard and much of its equipment - including high-water vehicles - are in Iraq. "The National Guard needs that equipment back home to support the homeland security mission," a Louisiana Guard officer told reporters several weeks ago.

Second question: Why wasn't more preventive action taken? After 2003 the Army Corps of Engineers sharply slowed its flood-control work, including work on sinking levees. "The corps," an Editor and Publisher article says, citing a series of articles in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, "never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security - coming at the same time as federal tax cuts - was the reason for the strain."

In 2002 the corps' chief resigned, reportedly under threat of being fired, after he criticized the administration's proposed cuts in the corps' budget, including flood-control spending.

Third question: Did the Bush administration destroy FEMA's effectiveness?


"Conservatives" are apparently promoting a race war.
"New Orleans was ripe for collapse. Its dangerous geography, combined with a dangerous culture, made it susceptible to an unfolding catastrophe. Currents of chaos and lawlessness were running through the city long before this week, and they were bound to come to the surface under the pressure of natural disaster and explode in a scene of looting and mayhem."


"Like riotous Los Angeles since the 1960s, New Orleans has been a wasteland of politically correct dysfunction for decades -- public schools so obviously decimated vouchers were proposed this year (and torpedoed by the left), barbaric gangster rap culture no one will confront lest they offend liberal pieties, multiculturalist frauds who empower no one but themselves, and cops neutered by the NAACP and ACLU."

  Raw Story article

It began, fittingly enough, with jazz from New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Wynton Marsalis. But "A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit airing on NBC and other networks last night, took an unexpected turn, thanks to outspoken rapper Kanye West.

Appearing two-thirds through the program, West claimed, "George Bush doesn't care about black people," and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

The show, simulcast from New York on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and Pax, aired live on the East Coast, enabling the Grammy-winning rapper's outburst to go out uncensored.

Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."

NBC said in a statement that West's comments were unscripted and "in no way represent the views of the networks."

  NY Daily News article

I don't think we needed to be told.

LaBelle writes:
Watching the abandonment of those poor people in New Orleans is enough
to make me want to crawl in a hole and cover my head. I can't even describe how angry I am. That asshole on the radio program Tamie at the office listens to just sickened me beyond belief today. His comment on seeing the images from NO - "It looks like Africa." Exactly the reason they are dying on the streets there - no water, no food, no buses to get them the hell out of there. I heard one woman today say it's natures way of weeding out the undesirable! I really wanted to punch her stupid face. Tony Messenger is calling for the city of Columbia to offer up the Hearnes Center for a shelter for some of these people. Like that's going to happen. Ye gods - they're BLACK people. POOR BLACK people. We have enough problems with our own POOR BLACK people. Can't be bringing in any more.

The rescue of the people of New Orleans is a major fuck up. And that asshole in the oval office says no one thought the levees wouldn't hold!!!


Oh, and another thing - all that inadequately armored equipment the Louisiana National Guard had to take with them to Iraq would have worked just fine for rescue purposes in their home state, don't you think? Not to mention all the soldiers over there who have no idea what's happened to their families back home. And you can bet they are the very ones who are stranded, dying or dead already in New Orleans right now.

And while I'm ranting, I'll just take on the Tribune. [Ed: Local Columbia, Missouri, newspaper.] Big headline in tonight's paper - Mexico family takes in refugees (that
would be Mexico, Missouri :) ) I read the article. Those 'refugees' were Tulane students [...]. They were from Maryland, Illinois and Conneticut. Now they
could just go HOME. To call them "refugees" was ridiculous.

As I always say, a good story can never be embellished enough.

Jody comments:
Katrina has sent a warning about US vulnerability and we
will see the disconnect between Bush's words and actions and the breakdown of the overall social contract, while people begin to make smarter choices of where and how to live and communities realize they need to become more self-sufficient.
And, lastly, just let me remind you that there's a little problem when your patriotic neighbors hammer you with comments about our wonderful army that exists to protect you. Maybe it does....if you're white and support the power structure.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said the 300 troopers from the Arkansas National Guard had been authorised to open fire on "hoodlums" who terrorised the flooded city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The deployment came amid intense criticism of the Bush Administration for a tardy response to the disaster, which is feared to have killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands stranded and homeless.

"These troops are fresh back from Iraq, well trained, experienced, battle tested, and under my orders to restore order in the streets," Ms Blanco said.

"They have M-16s and they are locked and loaded.

"These troops know how to shoot and kill, and are more than willing to do so if necessary. And I expect they will."

  Herald Sun article

I wonder...with the same indiscriminate rush? "More than willing."
Dana Milbank in the WaPo:
“I’m looking forward to my trip down there,” President Bush said in the White House driveway yesterday morning before leaving to tour the storm wreckage.

Something must have happened in flight, because when he arrived in Mobile, Ala., two hours later, he reported: “I’m not looking forward to this trip.”
And evidently all helicopters were grounded for the duration of the Clueless One’s visit.

  WIIIAI post

(Update: Dennis Kucinich: “Indifference is a weapon of mass destruction.”)


Bush is going on a tour, but promises not to enjoy it: “I’m not looking forward to this trip. ... It’s as if the entire Gulf Coast were obliterated by the worst kind of weapon you can imagine”. Stupidity?

  WIIIAI post

I'll bite.

New Orleans headlines at Raw Story:

MoveOn makes available 42,000 beds for Katrina survivors

Halliburton gets Katrina contract, hires former FEMA director

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food

July 2005 article reveals New Orleans told poor: 'You're on your own'

Questions of racism in hurricane photo captions; Yahoo responds

Typhoon in China

Maybe the U.S. can't manage to evacuate Louisiana's citizens, but China can manager hers.
China evacuated more than 790,000 people as powerful Typhoon Talim slammed into its east coast yesterday after barrelling across Taiwan, where it left three dead and dozens injured.

  SMH Australia article

Mother earth is rockin' and rollin'. The Red Sky prophecy is probably looking pretty spot on to the Native Americans about now.

Rove greets the war promoters

Driving his own pickup, with two trucks blockading both sides of the street, Bush Administration Senior Political Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove made a surprise sunset visit/photo-op Tuesday night to the half dozen or so Bush supporters camped across the street from "Camp Casey" in Crawford [...]


The BRAD BLOG has obtained exclusive photographs from Rove's quick glad-handing and back-patting with the few pro-war, pro-Bush stalwarts who were manning a counter-protest site across the street from Sheehan's original camp.

Rove did not meet with any of the dozens of Iraq and Afghan war vets, nor the Gold Star Family members who'd lost loved ones in those wars who were present in Crawford to support Sheehan's request to meet with Bush for an explanation of the "noble cause" that he's suggested their loved ones had died for.

  Brad Blog article

....but hey, do what you want....you will anyway.

Calfornia should expect the next big disaster

God's on the warpath, don't they recognize that?
SACRAMENTO – The state Senate became the first legislative chamber in the nation to pass a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting up a showdown next week in the Assembly, which rejected the proposal just three months ago.


The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the measure 21-15, with a bare majority of the 40-member house. All votes in favor of the bill came from Democrats[..]


Godless heathens.

Iran coming up

The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday questions remained about Iran's nuclear programme and confirmed it had resumed activities suspended under a deal with the EU, setting the stage for possible referral to the U.N. Security Council.


The report, authored by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, said: "In view of the fact that the Agency is not yet in a position to clarify some of the important outstanding issues after two and a half years of intensive inspections and investigation, Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."


Yeah, well let us get Katrina behind us. Or maybe if we're not putting much effort into that, it won't keep us from Iran. But, what with our attacks near the Syrian border, we're getting an awful lot on our plate.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A quick post from Mexico

I'm trying to read the news and answer emails in between preparing and teaching classes, and it's kind of tight. As it is, I'm up early and in bed after midnight every night. But the major problem is the lack of dinero. At least for now. I'm learning how to pinch pesos, and my method at this point is to download news pages I might post on here at YWA, read them at home, create a post, and come back to the cafe to post them. That means my posts won't be as timely as I'd like, and so I'm thinking it might eventually mean I stop posting while I'm here (at least a year).

We'll see.

You don't need tomorrow's news today, especially when there are so many other good blogs and sources.

For now, I want to tell you that in one class I have two ten-year olds who know only a few words in English. After about a half hour of the first class, the little boy asked me why America was fighting Iraq.

Hey, we all want to know.