Saturday, April 30, 2005

Change Can Be Good
Do I Really Live in San Francisco?


All of a sudden what I was doing at work one week ago is completely different from what I should be doing now.

All of a sudden I live in a room overlooking a relatively busy road, and I need to buy some ear plugs.

All of a sudden I'm taking a muzzle on my dog walks and occasionally strapping it onto my dog's face.

Less suddenly, but within the last few months I am: drinking soy milk twice daily or more; frequently riding trains; eating tortilla chips almost daily; only eating freedom fries maybe once a month, and french fries maybe only once every two months; saying "no sour cream" on average three times a week; taking lots of pictures and uploading them to the world wide web; speaking in front of friendly people in a jacket and tie; drinking beer daily; talking to people I don't know; and posting to a weblog called shoplifters unite!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sixty Percent of Mexicans Would Commit Civil Disobedience to Support Left-Leaning Mayor of Mexico City

That's according to polls that show majorities of Mexicans who believe his indictment was politically motivated and not part of a legitimate legal action. Mexico may be a "fragile democracy" as the Christian Science Monitor noted, but the Mexican people seem to have a deeper understanding of democracy than Americans if they are willing to commit civil disobedience. More proof of this: 1.2 Million Mexicans marched in Mexico City to support Mayor Obrador yesterday.

Friday, April 22, 2005

THE MISUNDERSTOOD YOUNG CONSERVATIVES

Here is the text of an email I received after publishing this column last weekend ...
Mr. Villarreal,

I am writing to you in response to your April 17 article titled "Washington Is Bolstering An Anti-immigrant Movement, Will The First Latino A.g. Take A Stand?"

Mr. Villarreal, you accused YCT-UT of holding a “capture an illegal immigrant days” this is simply not true. I would like to point you to a press release put out by YCT on March 3, 2005. The full PR may be obtained here.

It is clear what was coined in your article is pure fiction. While I was not there for the alleged event (I attend Texas Tech University in
Lubbock) you wrote that, "hundreds of protesters confronted the Young Conservatives." These protesters were 'protesting' a Texas Independence day event/table. Protesting an event such as TID is clearly a lack of respect for the people who sacrificed their lives for freedom. While I respect anyones right to assemble and protest, it is despicable that you seem to applaud the acts of these "hundreds" of protesters.

Below is a statement made by our then current State Chairman, David Rushing on the situation concerning the alleged “capture an illegal immigrant days” at YCT-UT.

"Articles in newspapers across the state on Thursday covered
protests against the Young Conservatives of Texas’s UT chapter.
While YCT-UT was merely running a table designed to celebrate Texas
Independence Day, the protesters had gotten wind that the chapter
was going to hold a “Capture an Illegal Immigrant” event similar to
one held in January at YCT’s University of North Texas chapter.
Regardless of what internal debate may have occurred among UT
chapter members, no illegal immigration event was held at UT, yet
their Texas Independence Day celebration was crashed by protesters
wishing to silence YCT’s political expression."

In the future please research your articles more carefully.

Regards,

Kevin Wood
kwwood@swbell.net
Chairman YCT-TTU
YCT Vice Chairman of Communications

http://www.yct.org
So, as far as I can tell, they fully endorse the racist and childish capture an immigrant game, but they just decided against doing it at UT Austin on that particular day. Well pardon me Mr. Bigot.

And Texas Independence was no fight for freedom, it had more to do with rich white men kicking Mexicans out of land they had lived on forever. Some of the political motivation for the fight for independence was the desire to own slaves, which was outlawed by the Mexican government, but was making white men just east of Texas very wealthy. I guess the Young Conservatives are still fighting those old battles.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

OOPS, WE ACCIDENTALLY TORTURED PEOPLE UNTIL THEY DIED
OH AND WE DON'T REALLY KNOW IF THEY EVER DID ANYTHING WRONG


From the Washington Post ...
Soldiers' 'Wish Lists' Of Detainee Tactics Cited

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A16

Army intelligence officials in Iraq developed and circulated "wish lists" of harsh interrogation techniques they hoped to use on detainees in August 2003, including tactics such as low-voltage electrocution, blows with phone books and using dogs and snakes -- suggestions that some soldiers believed spawned abuse and illegal interrogations.

The discussions, which took place in e-mail messages between interrogators and Army officials in Baghdad, were used in part to develop the interrogation rules of engagement approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Two specific cases of abuse in Iraq occurred soon after.

Army investigative documents released yesterday, as well as court records and files, suggest that the tactics were used on two detainees: One died during an interrogation in November 2003 while stuffed into a sleeping bag, and another was badly beaten by inexperienced interrogators using a police baton in September 2003. The documents indicate confusion over what tactics were legal in Iraq, a belief that most detainees were not covered by Geneva Conventions protections and alleged abuse by interrogators who had tacit approval to "turn it up a notch."
Confusion over what tactics are legal? How about a basic sense of human rights and respect for fairness and justice? Does the military teach any of that? Certainly not. The Army has nothing to do with human rights. They teach soldiers to kill and help them get over their own fears of being killed, not in the name of human rights but in the name of U.S. economic and political hegemony.

Our criminal courts in the U.S. don't let murderers off the hook because they were confused about the law. I suppose when the victims are foreigners, people of color, and accused of doing something bad by the military, confusion is understandable and murder is excusable. Tonight I will pray to the new pope that the U.S. military never accuses me of anything.

Coming soon . . . fallout from my column.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

IMMIGRATION

I thought this article was a little too short for its content, but I originally wrote it as an Op-Ed for a newspaper. If I had the time I would further explore the connection between the anti-immigrant legislation related to 9-11 and laws that seem more focused on our southern border.

The main points are that there is some scary shit going on in this country, it appears to be spreading, and the mere fact that there are some people of color in positions of power doesn't seem to be helping.

So I actually believe the border should be open, and if you don't, my question to you is this: Will the border between Mexico and the U.S. exist in its present form forever? One scary answer to this question: No, it will become more "secure" with fences and maybe in some locations an Israeli-style apartheid wall.

By the way, anyone keeping an eye on the protests in Mexico around the popular mayor of Mexico City who is described as center-left. The Mexican Congress has allowed for his prosecution for what appears to be a minor issue, and this decision came down just after he announced he wanted to run for president. Now it appears he may be in jail when the elections for president begin. On Univision last night they were showing some of the protests, but I need to find out more. I'll start by reading this article.

If Mexican democracy delivered left-wing leadership in the next few years, I wonder what Washington's reaction would be like? What would the Minutemen do?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

MOVING

Back to Texas? No, just into the Mission. It will begin next week and be complete by the end of this month. I will be able to walk to work or to Taqueria El Buen Sabor for a California Burrito (with broccoli and tofu). It's also very close to the Castro and the numerous trains and trolleys of Market Street.

Photos to come.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

NO PUPPETS OR DJ'S, BUT A GREAT PROTEST

http://www.indybay.org/uploads/collegenotcombat.mov
RECLAIM THE STREETS



This was a great protest that moved about the Castro and Mission on Saturday. They set out to reclaim the streets and actually held Castro Street between 18th and Market for a couple of hours with dj's, dancing, a game of soccer, men on stilts, sidewalk chalking, water guns, and people on various forms of skates. They did not have a permit. The crowd was mixed, though it was mostly white and various stripes of anarchist, with some folks I would describe as art hippies.

The problems: The purpose of the march was to oppose the fee increase for MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway), but it wasn't clear to anyone but those involved in the march itself. I heard at least 6 or 7 onlookers wondering out loud what the march and activity was all about. A serious movement against the fee hike would have made that clear.

Also, some of the protesters directed their animosity at MUNI bus drivers. When someone stuck a sticker on the front of a bus waiting for the crowd to pass, the driver honked startling the protester. She and a few other folks yelled some explitives and stuck their middle fingers into the air. There were other strange confrontations with the buses themselves. The most politically effective movement against the fee hike would be in solidarity with the MUNI workers, particularly the drivers.

***

I have to say I've been bitching a lot about both MUNI and music. So it was good to be part of something that included both great music and a cause, although a somewhat confused and hidden cause, that I believed in.

See more off my photos here.