Lest we forget…

November 9, 2018

While the tramp, tramp, tramp of trump, trump trump goes smashing and smashing, through the US and other parts of the world, in Mexico at this moment, migrants or immigrants or refugees continue on their long and difficult journey.

From La Jornada, Jueves 8 de noviembre de 2018.

Migrant children, the most vulnerable side of the Caravan

Mexico City.  Alexander is four years old: he laughs, runs and doesn’t stop playing with the other kids who are moving along with their families in the caravan of Central American migrants to the border of Mexico with the United States.

But, although the little guy, orignally from El Salvador, doesn´t know where he is or where he’s going, he says that he’s already tired, that his feet hurt and he wants to go home.

And hes already spent more than twenty days on this´part of the journey, in which he has had to walk on highways from the southwest of México (Chiapas and Oaxaca) with his mother Elizabeth Gutiérrez, who is one of the thousands of migrants who began this journey the 12 of October in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

And it is calculated that in this contingent more than five thousand people are taking part, among them, a third of whomare minors, that is to say, more than a thousand, according to Edgar Corzo Sosa, fifth visitor from the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH).

The pregnant mothers, and above all, the newborns are the most vulnerable.  There is no census, it’s complicated, but a third part of the caravan is children, we are bringing approximately five thousand people, maybe a little more or a little less, he said in an interview with Notimex.

He pointed out that one of the problems that they live with in this contingent is poor nutrition, since although everything is done so people don’t get hungry, it is not always the most adequate, because it depends on what is available in the communities they pass through.

There are babies between three and four months old whose mothers are nursing them, but, a mama who isn’t as well nourished as you would want who gives the breast to her child, a mama who goes suffering on the road …. It is difficult.

The coordinators indicate that at least 23 pregnant women in the caravan have been identified and among them are some who have not received medical attention although there are medical units.

In respect to the situation which the children endure, Corzo Sosa pointed out that on the road they suffer dehidration and dizziness.  Not only that, sometimes children have been found crying because of the impact of the migration.

And many of them are fleeing sexual violence and gangs, extortion, poverty and  limited access to a decent education and social serices in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.


And I will add, sometimes all of the above.  Maybe more often than not. And what they are fleeing is far worse than this terrible journey.





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More Shame on America

September 1, 2018

People are dying because of Trump, not just suffering terribly.  We should not be tolerating him or his henchmen.  When will we stop them?  When will we finally decide that this greedy, immoral son of a bitch is destroying what is good in our country?

Below, a column by Gideon Levy in today’s Haaretz. 

Now it’s out in the open: America has declared war on the Palestinians. With his son-in-law Jared Kushner, an expert on humanitarian organizations and Palestinian refugees, the great bully Donald Trump decided to end aid to the UN agency that aids Palestinian refugees. The official explanation: The business model and fiscal practices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency made it an “irredeemably flawed operation.”

Trump and his son-in-law, the keepers of the seal of good government, found that the agency isn’t properly run. The annual U.S. contribution of $360 million will end. Even in Israel, which rejoices at every Palestinian calamity and is positive that everything is a zero-sum game, people think the state’s greatest friend of all time went a little overboard.

The new America treats small slights and major crimes equally. Allocations to U.S. aid organizations operating in the territories, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, have been cut by $200 million.

Washington decided to hit the Palestinians in the wallet. Of all the huge sums going to aid corrupt regimes, of all the trillions spent on pointless wars and mass killing, it’s the aid to the Jabalya refugee camp that’s mismanaged and has to stop. The Palestinians, blackmailing sons of blackmailers, no longer deserve it because of the business model. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad; the price of the joke will be paid from Chatila to Rafah.

>> Defunding UNRWA is an example of Trump’s ‘peace’ plan | Analysis

Israel deserves this terrifying aid; it complies with every resolution passed by international institutions, a model of morality that obeys every U.S. recommendation that it withdraw from the territories and end the occupation. It’s worthwhile for America to pay for all its whims and wars. It greatly adds to its global prestige.

>> UNRWA under attack: Trump tries to destroy a Palestinian achievement to force a deal | Analysis

This year, America will spend $46 billion in Afghanistan, on a war it can’t get enough of. It will pour $13 billion into Iraq, long after one of the most foolish wars ever ended

Wars? The one in Afghanistan cost America $753 billion, the one in Iraq $770 billion, according to the Pentagon. According to Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the actual cost was $1.7 trillion. Two unnecessary wars that caused the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, but the money spent on them conformed with a proper business model. The same for the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Only the UN relief agency for the Palestinians is improperly run. The leader of the free world, the greatest warmonger since World War II, cuts flour for Yarmouk and cooking oil for Bureij, because the Palestinians overestimate refugee numbers.

Behind all this, of course, is a much broader truth. UNRWA could hire Eliad Shraga, head of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, and comply with Scandinavian management standards, but nothing would make a difference. Israel long ago declared war on the agency, America followed it as usual, all with the aim of removing the refugee issue from the agenda.

Anyone familiar with the conditions in the refugee camps knows just how dependent their inhabitants are on the UN agency. There might be some waste, certainly there are freeloaders, reform is absolutely necessary, but UNRWA provides basic humanitarian assistance. Without it there are no schools, clinics and food in the camps. America owes an indirect debt to the people there; it funds and supports the Israeli occupation, and it has never lifted a finger to reach a genuine solution to their suffering.

But the new America has lost its shame, too; it no longer even wants to pretend to be the honest broker, or take care of the world’s needy, as its position obliges it to do. Let us say, then, shame on you, America.

Trump’s trade war with China: the retaliation lists

August 22, 2018

Meanwhile, the crimes of the criminal president mount up, even if they are not all crimes in the legal sense.  There is no way the trade war he has provoked with China is going to help US farmers.  Marian Nestle’s posts, including partial tariff lists, follows.


I have been trying to track what’s happening in our current tariff war with China.  Politico Morning Agriculture helps a lot, but even so keeping up with the rounds of retaliatory tariff imposition…

Source: Trump’s trade war with China: the retaliation lists

Please tell me these things aren’t happening in the US

June 12, 2018

The day before yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said domestic and gang violence were not grounds for asylum.  He did this when he reversed an immigration appeals court ruling that granted a Salvladoran women asylum because of her claims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse by her husband.  This is on top of the horrendous policy or ripping kids from their parents.  I don’t know how he could categorically do this even if a woman was assaulted and abused by her husband in private.  But coincidentally, I just received an article to translate from Spanish which documents the extent of abuse against women in Nicaragua where it is often perpetrated by people outside the home, where there is often no help from police, where it is part of a culture in which feminicide is a not uncommon occurrence.  Sessions and Trump and others in the Administration seem totally oblivious to human suffering.  I used to think if they could be put in a situation where they had to witness it, they would understand.  But I think they have no souls.

And how can Sessions reverse court decisions?  He is in charge of the Justice (hah) Department, not a judge in an appeals court.

I Wonder

April 4, 2018

A week or so ago I was lying on my pad in my yoga class which is in a large, airy room with a wall of windows on one side and of mirrors on two others. It’s a peaceful place. By chance, I looked toward the far end of the room where there is equipment stored for children, including a tricycle with heart-shaped balloons tied to the handlebars. As I watched, it rose into the air. A small, skinny old lady was riding it. How happy she looks, I thought. Suddenly, the scene changed. I found myself lying on the ground, on cultivated soil, with roots exposed and stems and leaves crowding me. My fingers and toes were extending towards the roots, uniting with them. It was beautiful and frightening. And suddenly I was back in the peaceful room.

Of course it immediately occurred to me that these visions were about dying. It’s not unnatural to be thinking of it at my age. But visions are a bit startling! I hoped they were not premonitions.

Just How Confused (Confusing) Donald Trump Is: Recent Tweets ummm Explained

April 2, 2018

…in this Atlantic column which is a noble effort.

Yes, There Are Lessons to Be Learned From the Past

April 2, 2018

In the New York Times today (2 April 2018) there is a remarkable piece on the Roman philosopher Seneca called “How to Serve a Deranged Tyrant”.  The writer, Ryan Holiday writes about this from a very personal perspective:  He was offered a job as a communications director for a member of Donald Trump’s cabinet.  He is also a scholar of Stoics (as in Roman Stoics) who followed the path of Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, in first deciding he could benefit the most people by trying to moderate the efforts of a tyrant by working for him and finally deciding he was of more benefit doing good for a few just people.  Seneca tried with the Emperor Nero. Ultimately, Seneca died for his efforts.  Holiday hasn’t yet for toying with possibly helping out Trump. In any event, the article proves the value of knowing some history, and I urge you to read it.

There is still room for Joy — maybe more than before

November 12, 2017


One night in the 1950s when Eisenhower was president and in the suburbs at least people kept up with the Joneses my friend Dee Dee and I were lounging in the beds which folded out from chairs in her bedroom in her family’s apartment on West 58th Street discusussing  serious issues.  It might have been 1956 after the Hungarian uprising during which the US failed to support the uprising as the uprisers thought they would.. And at the same time  we had read about some mind-blowing Hungarian art  or novel.´ I can’t put this in quotes because I don´t remember after all these years who said what. And I don´t remember what provoked it. Maybe we were stuck in some homework assignment.  We were stuck on the idea that life in the USA we saw and read about was kind of boring at the moment: a keeping up with the Jones time.  Or at least life as it was seen on “Father Knows Best”and “Ozzie and Harriet” was which of course seemed only faintly like what we knew of life in NYC.

So we decided in our thirteen or fourteen year old seriousness that maybe people were able to be more creative when life around them was harder and more threatening.  When political life wasn’t so bland.  Of course we were, to put it mildly, naive.

The horrors of these days of Trump have not made it easier for me to be creative.  If anything,  it is hard not to be overwhelmed by daily frightening news revealing our Presiden’t heartlessness and stupidity,  hard to go from news story to opinion piece to photos which inflict groans and depression. So these  politically difficult days haven’t until maybe just recently, made me feel the least bit creative.  Doomed is more like it. And drawn inexorably to  internet news like some people are drawn to opioids, but with no reward.

So yesterday I decided to limit my news viewing time.  I imagine there is a withdrawal period because it wasn’t until this morning that I caught sight of a spark of light:  An article built around an interview with Stephen Sondheim by Lin Manuel Miranda in The New York Times.  Here is the link.  You should read the article.

I have to say here with great pride though I have nothing to do with it and am decades removed from his attendance, that Lin Manuel Miranda and I both attended the same wonderful high school:  Hunter College High School.  Miranda is the creator — and I mean the creator — of the musical, Hamilton: Book, lyrics, music.  And the first star.  I have never seen it live, but the musicand dancing seem to dominate  is the show, and it is a miraculous amalgam of rap,  hip-hoprhythm and bluespop music, and traditional-style show tunes recounting the life of Alexander Hamilton with a cast representing the rainbow that is America   And it was written in the 2010’s, a time which was marked by the general mess that is modern life, with the rich getting richer, the poor poorer, opioid use growing, towns dying, the middle east burning up.  I guess what I find I’m learning now, at my somewhat advanced age, is that joy and sorrow and death and birth and evil and good are always threaded together, and there is never not an excuse for joy.  Hamilton, the musical, makes no bones about the mix of this stuff in Alexander Hamilton’s life, but still, it is an ode to joy´– it brings joy for the creative spirit,  the strength, the insistent persistence of all kinds of artists.

“Coming Face to Face with Jimmy Durham

November 2, 2017

This is when I wish I could just up and go to NY for a day.  Jimmy Durham is an artist who may or may not be an American Indian with a current exhibit at the Whitney Museum.  It sounds and looks in photos compelling, as they say.  Holland Carter has written a review in the NY Times which only increases my desire.  For those of us who are interested in Mexican history — for example, in Malinche and Cortés, there are some little bits of interest.  Of more interest are questions of an artist’s identity and the importance (or not) of his ethnicity and questions of cultural appropriation.

This is definitely worth reading.

Malinche by Jimmy Durham (Photo in the NY Times, Nov 2, 2017