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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Children Removal from Haiti - Is This Trafficking?

From: Associated Press

Our bit:

Do please remove God from your rhetoric. Truth itself is sovereign and if you did really have a mind to do good to the children by bussing them to ANOTHER country, you would have gone through, or at least tried to, the proper channels regardless of the perilous state the Haitian kids and state are in.

Missionaries have no carte blanche to do what they see fit especially when it comes to FOREIGN children. It is a NO NO. Children are CHILDREN. We all know the ISSUE to the core and OF COURSE you will run into trouble.

Missionaries SHOULD stay away from kids and obviously this will develop into a MONSTER story. In this case, realizing later that additional documentation was necessary just won't cut it.

Unconscionable behavior, to say the least.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What Do iPads, Teabaggers, and 'Beavis and Butthead' Have in Common?

What Do iPads, Teabaggers, and 'Beavis and Butthead' Have in Common? -- Politics Daily

The Internet is already abuzz with comments about Apple's new technological unveiling on Wednesday. The iPad.

The word pad has been in the English language for well over 5 hundred years:

1545–55; (n.) < MD or LG pad path (orig. argot; hence, appar., “highwayman” and “horse”); (v.) < MD padden to make or follow a path, c. OE pæththan to traverse, deriv. of pæth path; defs. 1, 8 perh. represent an independent expressive word that has been influenced by other senses.

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition. Retrieved January 30, 2010, from website:

Our two cents:

Now, iPad rolls off the tongue as if from a waterfall. Easy and stubbornly catchy. All very well, we say. We are sure advertisers spend many sleepless nights trying to come up with a word that will stick and be etched in your memory for generations to come and the more controversial the better. It will generate a lot of noise and, bingo, bring a lot of attention to, guess what, the product itself.

Moreover, there is a fine line dividing tea-bagging and i-padding and all the other "paddings" out there. Language is a bridge and many people know that. Some use it to make a point. Some use to carry their agendas across. Some use to sell techtoys.

So what? Nothing, it does not matter, for the more we cross that bridge the more aware we will become as we walk on it. Good for Apple and Steve Jobs.

Did he not do a fine job revealing his new gadget? A highwayman on horseback with a bag of tricks.

You be the judge.


Media turns to disaster porn to keep an audience

Media turns to disaster porn to keep an audience

Posted using ShareThis

From Salon


"Rather than reporting on what made Haiti so poor and therefore its infrastructure so susceptible to collapse, we get clips of Haitians momentarily cheering "USA!" as food packages trickle into their devastated capital. Rather than inquiries about how poverty made Haiti so ill-prepared for rescue operations, the disaster pornographers instead obediently follow George W. Bush, who self-servingly says, "You've got to deal with the desperation and there ought to be no politicization of that."


Surely most cable channels are trading on the telegenic images to keep their audiences glued to their TV sets. That is no "breaking news" to those quick on the uptake.

That a few or that one channel should turn their reporters into ersatz relief-workers and show them performing all sort of jobs, operating on people even, is all part of the disgusting war for ratings.

That a few reporters should perhaps invest somewhat unconventionally in their sartorial picks, it is only because they know they are being watched with a critical eye by others with different tastes.

Do they add to the current debate as to what should be done to lift Haiti out of its lethargic, unimpressive, economic predicament? They may very well do.

T-shirted newsmen and nightingale-like newswomen and other bloodhounds might, perhaps maliciously, bring to the fore, if we care to look closely and go past their rhetoric, images never before seen that will make us spring into action.

We "the ogling people" have the power to keep an eye on how things are being managed and how funds in that ravaged country are being distributed. And, most importantly, we are ever more conscious of the inner workings of this world where the fittest survive.

On Good English Teachers

What makes a good English teacher be a good English teacher? That blond, blue-eyed New-Zealander with a two-day stubble? No, of course not. Far from the truth.

What makes a good English teacher a good teacher is his or her ability to establish a rapport with his or her students and elicit in them the will to learn, progress and make headway.

What’s most important in all teaching situations is that the learning has to be accomplished in an atmosphere of peace and calm and, when necessary, call to action is appropriate as well. You have to make clear to your students that it is no use your bending over backwards to prepare good lessons or spend hours explaining a grammar point if your students will not devote time to their studies. I call it Distance Learning Tasks (DLTs)- you may want to link this to what is known in academia as students' autonomy.

Yes, our students have to understand that there is a whole world of Englishes out there and we cannot lump them all on a few pages in our textbooks. Students have to demonstrate autonomy from the get-go. Once that is attained or established, then we’ll be off to the races, or rather, our mission will have been accomplished.

Friday, January 29, 2010

When Your High Blood Pressure Peaks

Following up on a previous post on men's health on this blog, it is timely to point out that had our own chief of state heeded the message his own Health Ministry is putting forward, he would have had the chance to go on that trip to Switzerland to claim his "Global Statesman Prize".

"After a hectic week of ceremonies, visits and interviews Lula da Silva was preparing to fly to Switzerland when his personal doctor who had checked him several times for what seemed flu symptoms and chest and throat pains, decided he should not travel and had him interned in the local hospital of Recife, northeast of Brazil". (

"As is the example with breast or other cancers, people tend to seek help when their disease is far too advanced for help and the program aims at just that: prevention. 'Precious time is lost when that happens,' says José Gomes Temporão, Health Minister, 'when they arrive at the health services it’s because they have reached a critical stage.'” (

Er, hem, hem, the president will now have to go easy on that styrofoam box and its contents...

Let's all wish him well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award

I am the proud recipient of the Kreative Blogger Award. Kyle over at Out Left has awarded it to me.

What I am supposed to do:

1. Thank Kyle who nominated me for this award.

Here I go:

Kyle, I am deeply honored. You are a kindred (and lovely!) spirit in many ways, and so this award coming from you, means that much more to me to the point of my using your own words for this post.

2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog. Done!

3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award. If you don't already follow Kyle, get busy! You can find him at

4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting. See the list below.

5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers and post links to the 7 blogs you nominate. All of these blogs are wonderful places to find creative people and independent thinkers.

SEVEN things you thought you knew about me but didn't:

- I love açaí berries with granola and banana
- I love watching The History Channel
- I love guys in suits and ties
- I am a verbivore - meaning, I enjoy looking up words and their etymology
- I am a Reiki practitioner
- I love flying business-class
- I have read the Bible twice

My FOUR nominees, so far, for Kreativ Bloggers:

Marc at the Gayte Keeper

Corve at Corve daCosta's Blog

Eduardo at Pearls of BS

Stan at Understanding Stan

Three others yet to be chosen...


Never underestimate the Power of...

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ted Haggard’s wife says counseling has cured him of his compulsions

Really? For three years? while we do not discount the affections of the wife and how she connects emotionally with her husband, this grants a lot of room for commentary.

Unwanted compulsions, as we understand them, are repressed feelings like lava bubbling inside a volcano. We must then grit our teeth and take the, pardon me, apparent evidence that the individual in question is cured of his homosexuality. Good for him, we say, for who are we to judge a fellow human being who may be or might have struggled with such a hot button issue like, in their view, unbecoming sexuality?

Surely it is unbecoming when you take your own ideological dogmas and see them as law. Surely you will be considered a hypocrite by whomever once you stray from the path you chose for yourSelf. Some other people will beg to differ and simply regard the matter as another attempt, blatant even, to sell books.

Whatever! Let us all wish them the best we can and hope we never, never, never fall into this kind of "tight skirt" and be forced to reveal, haggardly, before the cameras of the world, for news travels fast, our true colors. Shudder...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Voting, Corrupt Politicians and the Need to do Something

Question: Why do we vote people into Office?

Answer: Because of the pressure of advertising and because we must vote in this country if we want our lives to run “smoothly”.

Comment: In Brazil, for you to be able to regularize one of our foremost identification papers, what we call CPF, we need to present our voting card. Imagine that.

Again, corruption exists everywhere. If one of the Seven Deadly Sins, Greed, has decided to make its presence known through politics, what is there for us to do, except cry for help? I’m rather cynical when it comes to politics. “It’s the economy, stupid” says one American president. Well, when the economy rules there is nothing we can do. Or is there? We might want to colonize another planet, terraform it and start over. However, we will want to leave our human nature behind.

That is precisely why we need to overhaul our educational system, and our society at large. Why don’t we start by “recalibrating” our cultural industry: smart lyrics and not the “bitch, babe, kind of crap” prevalent in imports and the equivalent national fare.

We have got to invest in our country’s imaginary. We need a hero. Not a hero from the soccer fields, or car racing. We need a hero for all the nation. A messiah?

Another world is possible runs the motto of the World Social forum. Of course it is. It takes some time. However, we will have to take the first step. If in our Power capital the status quo is indigest, it is chiefly because we want it so.

Why don’t we take to the streets as is the example in one of neighboring countries, Argentina? Why do we take crap from these ill-intentioned people? We have to remember that the most advanced countries in the world are not immune to this kind of distortion. Rogue elements are part and parcel of every group and cluster of people, of living organisms. It’s in nature. Do we want to get rid of them? How do we go about it?

Even medical students want conventional medicine to include alternative therapies

Even medical students want conventional medicine to include alternative therapies

From Natural News


"According to research published in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM), 75 percent of medical students surveyed think it would be beneficial for conventional Western medicine to integrate with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM places emphasis on natural therapies and using the body's own healing powers instead of relying on drugs, vaccines and other standard Western treatments."

Good for them! In a world in which Big Pharma reigns supreme, it is really tough going for aspiring doctors to incorporate Integrative Medicine. We are all glad times are a-changing and a shift in thought seems to be in place. Toss those pills.

Not so fast, please. We must treat the subject with utmost subriety. When the time comes, touch wood, when we should need the help of conventional medicine, make no mistake, the best course of action is to seek help.

You should never sit idly by and wait for a condition to worsen in hopes, perhaps vain at times, that it will vanish all on its own. It may, really. We do know our bodies, like the gods, work in mysterious ways. While we know that our thoughts might influence enzymes at a cellular level, it is all to our advantage to garner all sorts of information about a particular condition and do our best to get rid of it.

Meanwhile, let us all follow those age-old snippets of wisdom we have been hearing for decades and let us not overdo on anything suspiciously noisome to our bodies. You get the message?

Watch the video below and find out the secrets to good living.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The World Social Forum: Challenges and Proposals, Back in Porto Alegre

The World Social Forum (WSF), celebrating its 10th anniversary, is set to begin on Monday, January 25th to 29th, 2010, in Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.

Instead of converging to just one place, The World Social Forum will take place in a decentralized manner having at its core 27 national, regional and local events spread throughout the world along 2010.

In greater Porto Alegre, "The Social Forum 10 Years On" will be happening in Gravataí, Canoas, São Leopoldo, Novo Hamburgo and Sapiranga.

Given the importance of the date and of the event, some heads of state are to attend, amongst them: Lula, Evo Morales, Mojica and Fernando Lugo, from Latin America; as well as several other ministers and important Brazilian politicians such as the presidential hopefuls Dilma Rouseff and Marina silva, senator Heloísa Helena and congressman Ciro Gomes, all of them big names in Brazilian politics.

One of the chief events in this year's forum will be the International Seminar "10 Years On: Challenges and Proposals for Another Possible World" with over 70 intellectuals and other social leaders from all over the planet in attendance. The seminar will take place on the morning of the 25th.

Explore in English:

Is There Life After Death?

Is There Life After Death?

From: Time Magazine

A snippet:

Is there life after death? Theologians can debate all they want, but radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long argues that if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes.

Yes. Buddhists, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, Hindus, Theosophists and several other philosophical entities view life after death as a pretty common thing. Except Chistianity, as far as we know.

Since most of what we know about life after death is solely based on stories told by those who came back to life after a traumatic experience, this writer included, it is difficult to assess and study the phenomenon at some university.

Isn't it sobering to learn that mainstream "scientists" are slowly but surely cottoning on to the idea that, hey, it is possible...

Since this is a highly controversial subject and depending on your philosophical beliefs, blasphemous, more research and other studies are necessary to unravel the knot of mysteries surrounding Life.

We are well aware that people are okay with their canonical religious texts and take them to the letter. Rarely do people find time to research into religious matters and depend instead on "theologians" to interpret the texts for them. And that is law. No problem, we say, for Life demands this emotional investment. How can you argue with Faith?

Read more:,8599,1955636,00.html#ixzz0dWg0Jx1T

The Man Who Could Beat AIDS

The Man Who Could Beat AIDS
From TIME Magazine

Poor HIV has broad shoulders. After two decades and a half of beating scientists to the finish line we read of yet another 'inroad' into the mysteries of the pernicious bug.

One HIV great, A 1996 TIME person of the year honoree, David Ho, has been looking into "a new agent called ibalizumab, an antibody that appeared able to block HIV's entry into healthy cells." (TIME)

So far it "appears able" and up until it IS able without noisome side effects to those who are administered the agent, we would rather take the cynical view that HIV will remain the behemoth viral threat up until the moment folks decide to take their health into their own hands and do the best for themselves. It is a fact, some of us know, that people still live in the "fast lane" as the "AIDS denialists" claim. And that there is only so much your body can take. Period. Who are you kidding?

Good health and peace of mind is tricky business and, pardon the cliché, an uphill battle. The plain truth. Isn't it easier to pop a pill? In the case of HIV, er, a handful of them! Of course it is.

Let us all be on the safe side, join us please, and cut down on, or quit altogether, whatever you are doing you know is harming you. Shall we make a list? No, uncalled for and unpleasant. Who said it was going to be easy?

Friday, January 22, 2010

On Citizen Journalism and New Discoveries

There is one thing we can do now that we know the Internet will be used in political campaigns here in Brazil. Naturally, politicians are catching up with the trend and hope to get the best out of it. As citizens, we will be bombarded with information from all sides of the political spectrum. That is to be expected. It falls to us, those who have access to the Internet, to monitor and perhaps filter what we are going to be forwarding our friends. One thing is certain: our inboxes are no dumpsters.

We should use this new invention to propagate ideas that are worthy of mention bearing in mind that in politics it is always more of the same old, same old. We have now learned that there is only one agenda on government’s minds, and that is the economy. “It’ the economy, stupid!” Bill Clinton used to say. All right, we understand that for us to be able to help our disadvantaged brothers and sisters we have to generate income, that is, make money. Of course, we have to make money where it abounds, and that is the Market. Yes, we should follow the path of sustainable growth, too. After all, we do not want to leave a desert as our legacy to future generations. And we read elsewhere that those big multinational concerns are investing heavily in alternative sources of energy.

Energy? Which, by the way, reminds us of the billions of barrels of oil under our soil, rather, sea. The pre-salt layer, it is called. Much is being said about it and much is being made of it. Could it be that every Brazilian’s fortune is now about to change? Are we suddenly, a decade, they say, going to become the new arrivistes in the international oil scene? if we do, allow me to go get that new line of LV travelware in Paris. Toss that backpack.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Infidelity and Why it Matters

We have read in the news that recently in the United States one politician decided to come clean and acknowledge paternity of a child he had previously denied being his.

It so happens that he had had this ongoing relationship with a campaign employee. Details are immaterial here since we do not wish to carve out lurid morsels of the story and quite frankly, we are not willing to do so.

What is interesting to see is the response of the readership when in reception of the news: "'Scumbag, L*O*S*E*R! Sick bastard,What an idiot!" and so on and so forth.

That sort of reaction is native to the United States, one would think, for nowhere else in the world save perhaps the UK (Mrs Robinson) one hears of such scandalous happenings with politicians once it is a given that most of them have mistresses - or the opposite.

We all know that entire careers have gone down the drain largely due to marital indiscretions. Actually, they happen with astounding frequency. Gay or straight. And in the country to the north they take on national significance. How can you cheat on your wife, pardon the americanism, you moron?

Since we all know that they do engage in under the covers (pardon the pun) business, why don't we focus our attention on more noteworthy developments and leave politicians and their libidos to their families to deal with or get rid of?

We cannot pretend to theorize that is the course of action to be taken, mind you. What we could do is to lift the veil of pretense and hypocrisy that cloak most public servants and see them for what they really are: human beings. Flawed. Is it really a flaw?

We have read somewhere that people in power (throughout history!) are sexually active either with their spouses or someone else, except of course in ascetic religious power structures in which sexuality is negated. Again, untold millions, we hear, are spent on compensation for child abuse. It is in all the papers.

We could carry on rambling till we turn blue about the subject and reach no common ground for we will continue to read about sexual escapades for ages to come. They sell newspapers. The more scandalous the better. Such is life.

Porto Alegre on a Sunday Afternoon - Redenção Park

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maybe they should send them to the moon, then

Maybe they should send them to the moon, then

Very good. Let us all scream in unison:

Why do you always have to bring religion in?
When nothing else seems to win
And roads and access are dim
For Lo, the truth will ring in
At at time when reason and human
Wisdom find a space among the din

Because we are stunned beyond the pale into the Dominican Republic, clinging precariously onto a rock looking down a scraggy precipice with rapids rolling down to the Caribbean Sea.

What the hell else are we going to read about?

* My apologies. The original comment above had to be removed because many people who are Christians access this blog. This being an international blog, an effort should be made to make it as devoid of ideology as possible. Also, it is extremely undiplomatic of me or any other writer to criticize people's beliefs. I stand humbled and will strive to circumscribe my comments within the limits of decency.

On Profitable Wars and Soaring Speeches

The video speaks volumes and any other add-ons will only get in the way. However, it is to everyone's advantage that those who fight the battles waged against the exotic, the unchristian and the dispossessed for some mineral under their feet, are waking up and smelling the coffee. This is great.

It seems simplistic to say that it is often the powers that be that decide where to start the next war. Is it not the plain truth? Luckily, we the people, we are way too savvy to fall for the usual propaganda and be deceived by their smooth talk, soaring speeches and endless meetings at the United Nations. They are all in it together.

Our cynicism says that a world of peace is not profitable. A world of good-will will not bring gold, oil and precious stones to their coffers. We all are very well aware that wars are waged to disguise what in previous eras was known as plunder.

Once one land is raked clean of its riches, it is abandoned to the vultures and the stench of death. We have very clear proof of that now that the soul of Haiti has been exposed on our TV screens.

If we could only do our own tiny bit and convey to our leaders we are not willing to stand by their idea of how the world should be run and if we started now, we will perhaps reach a stage where peace of mind and relative (!) prosperity for all in our societies is materialized. A better world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It is in the Bible - All in a Days' Profits,er, Work.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Now don't come crying when, as Rachel says, they will start "spawning" anti-American criticism.

Proselityzing is strictly out of the books and trying to convert century-old cultures into Christianity is disingenuous and hypocritical at best. They will never convert.

The "light" messages encoded in the rifle scopes come with a bang. A killing bang. Un-believable!

Cruise Ships Still Find a Haitian Berth

Published on Monday, January 18, 2010 by The Guardian/UK

Luxury liners are still docking at private beaches near Haiti's devastated earthquake zone for holidaymakers to enjoy the water

by Robert Booth

Sixty miles from Haiti's devastated earthquake zone, luxury liners dock at private beaches where passengers enjoy jetski rides, parasailing and rum cocktails delivered to their hammocks.

The 4,370-berth Independence of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean International, disembarked at the heavily guarded resort of Labadee on the north coast on Friday; a second cruise ship, the 3,100-passenger Navigator of the Seas is due to dock.

The Florida cruise company leases a picturesque wooded peninsula and its five pristine beaches from the government for passengers to "cut loose" with watersports, barbecues, and shopping for trinkets at a craft market before returning on board before dusk. Safety is guaranteed by armed guards at the gate.

The decision to go ahead with the visit has divided passengers. The ships carry some food aid, and the cruise line has pledged to donate all proceeds from the visit to help stricken Haitians. But many passengers will stay aboard when they dock; one said he was "sickened".

"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue, and enjoying a cocktail while [in Port-au-Prince] there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets, with the survivors stunned and looking for food and water," one passenger wrote on the Cruise Critic internet forum.

"It was hard enough to sit and eat a picnic lunch at Labadee before the quake, knowing how many Haitians were starving," said another. "I can't imagine having to choke down a burger there now.''

Some booked on ships scheduled to stop at Labadee are afraid that desperate people might breach the resort's 12ft high fences to get food and drink, but others seemed determined to enjoy their holiday."I'll be there on Tuesday and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach," said one.

The company said the question of whether to "deliver a vacation experience so close to the epicentre of an earthquake" had been subject to considerable internal debate before it decided to include Haiti in its itineraries for the coming weeks.

"In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," said John Weis, vice-president. "In our conversations with the UN special envoy of the government of Haiti, Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call …

"We also have tremendous opportunities to use our ships as transport vessels for relief supplies and personnel to Haiti. Simply put, we cannot abandon Haiti now that they need us most."

"Friday's call in Labadee went well," said Royal Caribbean. "Everything was open, as usual. The guests were very happy to hear that 100% of the proceeds from the call at Labadee would be donated to the relief effort."

Forty pallets of rice, beans, powdered milk, water, and canned foods were delivered on Friday, and a further 80 are due and 16 on two subsequent ships. When supplies arrive in Labadee, they are distributed by Food for the Poor, a longtime partner of Royal Caribbean in Haiti.

Royal Caribbean has also pledged $1m to the relief effort and will spend part of that helping 200 Haitian crew members.

The company recently spent $55m updating Labadee. It employs 230 Haitians and the firm estimates 300 more benefit from the market. The development has been regarded as a beacon of private investment in Haiti; Bill Clinton visited in October. Some Haitians have decried the leasing of the peninsula as effective privatisation of part of the republic's coastline.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Luxury Cruise Ships Still Stopping At Haiti

Luxury Cruise Ships Still Stopping At Haiti’s Private Beaches

Posted using ShareThis

From: Matador


"Beyond the incredulous decision of the cruise line to encourage tourists to “cut loose” in Haiti at such a moment is the wider implication the decision holds. If the tourism industry – specifically, the cruise industry and the luxury resorts it relies on – can embrace such a stark and obscene dichotomy at a time like this, what does the future hold?"

"Never mind that there have been major protests against the privatization of the beach and the fact that Haitians not serving a cocktail to a cruise goer are banned from entering; never mind that the vast majority of Haitians receive almost no economic benefit from Labadee other than the hope that they’ll someday be among the select few picked from the mass of cheap labor to work at the resort, never mind that a chunk of their natural wealth has been partitioned off for frolicking tourists. Never mind that these resorts follow the same model of privatization that impoverished the country in the last two centuries."


No comments. I do not have the expertise to dish out critical comments on such an obscene realization. Gods, the lengths they will go to... I'm so naïve. I need a lesson in rugged capitalism.

Brazil Catholic Church attacks government initiative on abortion and gay rights

Brazilian president Lula da Silva and his National Program on Human Rights which last week apparently overcame military intransigence, now faces another formidable voice in the country’s politics: the Brazilian Episcopacy, disappointed with the abortion and gay marriage proposals.

The Brazilian Confederation of Bishops, CNBB, openly criticized the de-criminalization of abortion, same sex civil marriage and the right for gay couples to adopt All initiatives proposed by President Lula da Silva’s human rights initiative sent to Congressional consideration last December 21st.

CNBB also criticized the proposal to eliminate all religious symbols from all public places “an intolerant attitude” which pretends to ignore the long rooted historic traditions of Brazil, said the release announced Saturday and commented Sunday in all of the country’s Catholic churches.

The Catholic Church hierarchy describes the proposals as “elements of dissent” and said “time and dialogue” were needed to discuss them and thus build “participative democracy”, one of the terms used in the Human Rights Program.

The Human Rights program included all these issues and recommends the Brazilian Congress to draft bills on each of the controversial issues.

The program recommends the approval of legislation protecting the civil union of people of the same sex and the right to adopt for these couples.

It also suggests to the judicial branch that it campaigns to make magistrates more sensitive to the “prejudice” reactions to the adoption process by gay couples.
These issues are extremely sensitive for a very religious people with a conservative hierarchy, even when mores are quite lax.

This is the second hurdle with strong public opinion repercussion that President Lula da Silva’s administration has had to face with the program.

The most notorious was with the military who are opposed to the annulment of an Amnesty Law dating back to 1979 and which left out of the courts’ hook all those involved in human rights abuses including military, security forces and the insurgent Marxist oriented violent groups.

The Minister of Defence and the three chiefs of staff threatened to resign in protest over a Truth Commission to investigate torture and disappearances committed during the 1964/1985 military dictatorship.

The military suggested that, to be fair, members of the “armed gangs” of the sixties and seventies should also face the Truth Commission. This was a particularly strong criticism since several of President Lula da Silva’s ministers and advisors, including cabinet chief Dilma Rousseff, hand-picked to be the ruling coalition’s presidential candidate, were effectively members of those groups combating the dictatorship.

Apparently the program in those specific areas is to be re-drafted in consultation with Defence and the 1979 Amnesty Law spirit stands.

Another group which has complained and is certain to have its voice heard is the farmers’ unions that question some of the “rights” guaranteed to peasants and small landowners which are an invitation for “the landless to take over farms”.

Next October presidential elections will be held in Brazil and the ruling Workers Party with Lula da Silva has moved too far past the centre, helping surface at least two left wing candidacies that pull votes out of his majority.

The Human Rights program according to Brazilian press analysts was launched to recall the Workers’ Party credentials as the main opponent to to the Brazilian dictatorship.

Source: Merco Press - English

Al Jazeera English - Americas - Disputes over Haiti aid control

The United States might very well be advancing its agenda in Haiti. Obviously, reconstruction calls for huge investments to be made. Needless to say that at this point business-savvy people are keeping a very close eye on developments not to mention putting pressure on their governments and lobbyist for a share of the big big big pie that is to be served as soon as the clean up efforts are done and the death stench is sanitized.

However it is done, since we have no say, hopefully they will have the interests of the people close at heart and spare no efforts to literally rebuild the country by promoting reforestation, education and basic structure for all in that society.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Analyzing Haiti's history of hardship

Al Jazeera

"Haiti's fate as one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere has not been inevitable. It's history has been marked not only by natural disasters, but by political and economic conflict. It is a story of international intervention that has left the country particularly vulnerable. Al Jazeera's Avi Lewis reports. (14 Jan 2010)"

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Million Man" Antigay March for Uganda | News |

"Million Man" Antigay March for Uganda | News |

As if we did not have our plates full what with all the stresses of life and natural catastrophes in our hemisphere, we are greeted with the news that, heavens help us, another act of complete unconscionable, disconscionable, non-conscionable - add your own - pinheadness in the name of religion is to take place in the near future.

Those people should be focusing their energies on more creative attitudes and deeds and helping to create an atmosphere of good-will and peace in the world. Not that, really. Instead, they resort to sensationalism and cause headache and pain in their own people and in other sensitive souls around the world.

Using the very same rhetorical apparatus that they use in invoking morality, and what not, to say that their nation will be more virtuous because they will subject their own citizens to untold misery, we say that yes, you religious tyrants, surely your day will come, when you will have to face your own prejudices.

A Karma is a Karma is a Karma. Surely the gods in heaven are watching it all very carefully and jotting down your names. They never fail. It is mathematical.

On the Nature of Death and the Circus of Life

The media is now showing us hourly servings of dead bodies being loaded onto dump trucks to be carted off to mass graves in post-quake Haiti. For us westerners used to antiseptic deaths, it is a horrible sight - and notion.

We must also bear in mind that in this hemisphere, especially the United States, death is not welcome. We are non-death nations. Left to our own devices, we would never die. We are twenty-four-seven trying to combine various chemicals to make our lives longer on this planet. Any success?

However, and that is the most irrefutable truth, people do die. Remember, people die, they do not "pass" as we say euphemistically. Die to never be seen again, and depending on your philosophical view, to be born again under a new uniform (body) under a new identity. However, we do not possess unimpeachable and non-adorned evidence that this has happened. It is unpleasant to say this because it goes against my own, admitedly, philosophical beliefs.

Of course one death is one death too many. We do feel when our loved ones depart - there!... rather, die. I do miss my mother to bits, for example, and my beloved grandmother who used to take care of me when I was very little.

We human beings prefer to be wrapped in a false sense of security that does not exist, mind you. Natural disasters do happen all the time and that is very well documented in our increasingly technological world. We see them happening before our very eyes and that scares us witless.

What we must do, and that is within the realm of possibility, is to live our lives the best way we can, doing the most good we can, so that we can be remembered for the good people we were while on this Earth.

Should you find an elixir to cheat death do let me know. Ah, a quote:

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Very Important People Die

Changing tacks but still on the quake, the Brazilian media has reported that over 14 of its peace-keepers died in Haiti on Tuesday and 4 others were still missing up until Friday (Jan.15). Two of the dead were from Rio Grande do Sul, this writer’s native state.

Sadly, too, we have learnt that one very important person in the field of human rights and awareness has also perished in the earthquake: Dr. Zilda Arns,75, a pediatrician - and sister to one of Brazil’s foremost catholic priests, Paulo Evaristo Arns, Archbishop emeritus of São Paulo - was in Haiti on a mission.

Zilda Arns when alive was the founder and president of the Children’s Pastoral, a catholic organization specialized in caring for malnourished children amongst the poor of the country. Her organization oversees charitable and awareness-raising programs from the extreme north of the country to the last tip of Rio Grande do Sul. Zilda Arns was our Mother Teresa of sorts.

"Today, the Pastoral is one of Brazil's best-known organisations, and Zilda Arns was one of the nation's best-known faces. The organisation is present in 42,000 Brazilian communities, with 260,000 trained volunteers attending to 1.8 million children under the age of six. In communities where the Pastoral is present, the infant mortality rate is 11 per 1,000 births; in Brazil overall it is 22.5." (

Not a nun herself, Zilda came from a sacerdotal family in which three of her sisters and one brother are linked to the Catholic Church either as priests or nuns. Zilda Arns, when widowed, embarked on a career to help the have-nots. “A mission,” as she described it.

Even though in her work we do not see reference to birth control as one would expect, Dr Zilda Arns was of the opinion that birth control is achieved “by the education of women.” Educated women are the best birth control method, she used to say.

However you might think about it, she contributed significantly to the well-being of mothers and children by teaching them how to improve their diets by a combination of well-balanced meals using the country’s own produce in the form of dietary supplements, breast-feeding as well as education and awareness.

We feel when people like that leave this Earth.

Haiti's "pact with the devil" myth

Haiti's "pact with the devil" myth



"Is there any truth to what Pat Robertson is saying?

Of course not! Haitians are Christians. Pat Robertson's language is the reductio ad absurdum of the Christian right. It's so absurd it's almost funny. This notion of a pact with the devil is basically an echo of an old colonial response to the successes of the 1790s Haitian revolution.


What to say? Nothing except that most thinking individuals and those free from ideological biases of whatever kind are of the opinion that Pat Robertson is obviously looking for promotion in the wake of this tragedy. We should not lend him our ears. We should instead focus on helping those who have been left behind to cope with a country in ruins.

It is the stark reality.

Why Is Pat Robertson Blaming Haiti?

Why Is Pat Robertson Blaming Haiti?

Time Magazine


"And you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the Third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' True story. And so the devil said, 'O.K., it's a deal.' "


No, you have not heard it from me. Surely the person in question is searching for an ill-timed promotion in the wake of tragedy.

Truth be told, when we read stories like these our sense of hope drains and again we are shaken out of our torpor to face the stark reality and the manure our bros and sistahs in the Big Nation to the north have to put up with. And so do we for we consume their products. Heavens help us.

See for yourself.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On Disaster Relief to Haiti

It is heartbreaking that an earthquake should hit an already impoverished country.

Urgent efforts to get relief to the nation in ruins is of utmost importance. People should unite behind a common goal to make donations and, if necessary, help to rebuild the country.

In the scheme of things, most people are aware that Haiti lags far behind many of its neighboring nations in the Caribbean in terms of infrastructure and social justice.

Cynics say that because Haiti has nothing to offer the world at large as opposed to Brazil, an emerging market, it has been relegated to a mere point in the sea, practically ostracized and deeply involved in internal conflict.

I would suggest people in the U.S. and Latin America to donate the cost of one of their trips to the movies, popcorn, sodas and tickets at the multiplex and make the money reach Haiti.

Naturally, as it so often is the case, most disaster relief goes through the wrongs hands and those who are really in need end up getting nothing. A credible international organization should oversee the whole transaction. Immediately.

Is There Change in the Air?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maybe. When two heavy-weight lawyers partner up to fight what they think is inane arguments coming from the conservative realm to wipe gay marriage off the face of the Earth for good, it certainly is groundbreaking.

Wonderful for those north of the Rio Grande who have long been fighting for equality.

Let us all keep our fingers crossed and hope that this new breath of fresh air is all for the good and for the acceptance of other human beings who might be different from the conventional mold.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On Men's Health

Men and their aches and pains are now the target of the Health Ministry in Brazil. In August, last year, the government of Brazil launched The National Policy of Man’s Health or the policy for the health of the man.

The program aims at promoting access to health services for males who otherwise, perhaps by cultural and educational reasons, tend to look for health services when their ailment prevents them from working. In every three deaths that occur in Brazil, two are men's. The world over, men live on average five to seven years less than women.

As is the example with breast or other cancers, people tend to seek help when their disease is far too advanced for help and the program aims at just that: prevention. “Precious time is lost when that happens,” says José Gomes Temporão, Health Minister, “when they arrive at the health services it’s because they have reached a critical stage.”

R$ 613.22 million (Brazilian Real), or about US$ 300 million, will be allocated in a three-year time-frame, 2009 to 2011 on an eight-front approach, amongst them: communication initiatives, health promotion, service expansion and investment into the public health structure.

By the looks of it, it seems a revolution in men’s health is about to start. It was about time.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Shopper's Prayer/Oração do Comprador

Our brand shops which are in the malls
Hallowed be your labels
May your doors be open
May your shelves be full
At Prada as they are at Armani
Give us, today, your catalogues
Forgive us for being exaggerated
As we forgive Visa and Mastercard
For charging us interest
Do not lead us into insolvency
And set us free from Salvation Armies
Because yours is Mastercard, Diner's and Visa
For ever and ever

Lojas de marcas que estais no Iguatemi, no Praia de Belas, e Barra-Shopping
Santificados sejam os vossos rótulos
Vossas portas se abram
Vossas prateleiras cheias.
Na Calving Klein quanto na Fórum
Dai-nos, este dia, vossos catálogos
Perdoai nossos exageros
Assim como perdoamos ao Visa por nos cobrar juros
E não nos levai à falência,
Mas livrai-nos das lojas de liquidação.
Pois vosso é o Mastercard, o Diners e o Visa.
Para todo os sempre

On One's Origins

We all hail from somewhere.

I did. I was born and raised in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul in a small, “provincial” town to the north of the state. I learned a great deal when forced to live out my Karma in that unforgettable urban agglomeration.

I used to live and work with wonderful people I find hard to forget (they are in my heart). As is the norm, people who are “different” have no place in the conventional set-up and find themselves misunderstood. I experienced that to the hilt. Torture even.

However, people I had the privilege of interacting with professionally and in friendship could only have hailed from another planet. Many raised their voices to put in a good word for me. I miss them. To how many have I taught the rudiments of English?

I don’t miss others. To them I say: My karma has been paid off.

Sobre Nossas Origens

Todos viemos de algum lugar.

Eu vim. No plano físico, nasci no interior do Rio Grande do Sul numa pequena, provinciana e, talvez, simpática cidade ao norte do estado.

Lá cresci e aprendi muitas coisas. Conheci pessoas fantásticas (habitam no meu coração) e prosperei. Como todos vão lhe dizer, pessoas que nascem “diferentes” não têm lugar no convencional local e estas pessoas se sentem presas e talvez mal-compreendidas.

Ora, senti isso na carne. Aliás, era uma tortura. As pessoas com as quais tive o privilégio de conviver diariamente como profissional e outras, com laços de amizade, só podiam ser de um outro planeta. Muitas levantaram a voz para falar bem de mim. Sinto falta deles. A quantos ensinei o verbo “To Be”?

Dos outros não. A estes eu digo, karma pago!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Kudos to Portugal! Portugal’s Parliament Approves Same-sex Marriage


"Portugal’s parliament passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage today (yesterday). The bill “now goes to conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva who can ratify or veto it, but a veto can be overturned by Parliament. 'If approved, Portugal would become '“the sixth European country to allow same-sex marriages.”' As Joe Sudbay notes, Portugal is heavily Roman Catholic, with more than 84 percent of the population identifying as such."

Our take:

Great! This calls for a celebration. Are you listening, Brazil? Are you listening, Big Nation to the north?

Friday, January 8, 2010

How's Your Old Ticker?

No, I'm neither interested in your state of health nor if you are visiting your physician regularly. Naw, nope. But you should.

Buzz. Buzz. Gossip. It so happens that this writer attended a farewell party last night because one of his friends is moving back to the United States now that the pace is picking up again. Wonderful. Let us all wish him well.

Guests arrived promptly at nine p.m and everything ran smoothly. The hosts were very charming, there was bubbly, sodas and beer and things guests could nibble on. And talk about.

All very much in hushed tones because none of the guests would ever like to be in their subject's shoes. Actually, it was very funny if not tragic. The thing is, one of the guests let everyone know, a bit before the "polite company" had arrived, really, that one nasty incident happened at one of these bath houses. Yes, siree. Those in which you find "talent"...gorgeous talents at times, brawny and pea-brained. That does not matter.

The one client, once in the room with his hire, and right smack in the middle of it all, shudder.. gave up the ghost. A heart attack, they say. The client, married heterosexually - so they say, was removed stiff out of the bed.

I can imagine the trauma caused to the poor creature liasoning with the gentleman...not to mention the fright...and plus the scandal one such event must have caused to the family of the deceased.

A sober reminder for us all to get our regular check-ups and watch most carefully our health so that, heavens willing, we should by-pass such a fate.

Make sure you phone that doctor.

Portugal to pass marriage equality legislation

Portugal to pass marriage equality legislation

Posted using ShareThis


"Portugal’s parliament is likely to approve a bill legalizing marriage for same-sex couples Friday, just five months before a scheduled visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the heavily Catholic country, according to a report by Agence France Presse."

Our take:

Who new?

In enlightened Europe, if you are gay, you can marry your significant other in Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and let us keep our friends crossed, Portugal.

In the Americas, some states of the United States like:

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York

And let us not be discouraged by the jaw-breaking contents of the following video, always bearing in mind that this is just a bump on the road. Onward Spiritual soldiers!

Same-sex marriage bill defeated in New Jersey Senate vote

In open-minded Canada and, incredibly, Mexico and (by special decree) Argentina.

In South Africa. Check it yourself. Heavens willing, and loads of campaigning to help, the remaining American states and, pinch me, within this decade, Brazil and in the other countries of Latin America gay marriages will see the light of day.

There is hope in the world.

As a celebration, this writer will exalt his Portuguese heritage by using his very long portuguese family name.

Mauro José Martins dos Santos Pena Paim. Signed and stamped.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Sexual Health

Should you want to take the trouble to cut and paste the link below and then read the story on the CNN website, you will come across a very nice story about how more sex is beneficial to your health.

The video segment also is all very effusive about this straight couple who decided to have sex every day during the month of December and how they plan to keep going through the motions in January this year. The written part lists the benefits of frequent sex and how important it is for one's life.

Hopefully, they will carry out such a vital activity all throughout this year and in years to come. All power to them.

All very well, we say, until we look more closely and notice that in the story highlights most "health benefits seem to be linked to penile-vaginal intercourse."

Is it really? Last I checked the whole issue has to do with friction. Explained clearly, orgasm is attained by friction plus the consenting attitude of two (three, or even more!) people - regardless of their gender. In other words, two penises will, please hold me steady, reach the heights of orgasm as will two vaginas. Or, quite frankly, any other (one!) two people who might engage in some other form of sexual release.

This writer has interviewed post-op transsexuals and they have sworn under a cross that they did have orgasms when engaging in sexual relations with their partners. Put bluntly, when they were penetrated...

I sincerely hope I am not throwing a spanner in the works and render their story poo-poo-like once, had they taken the trouble to expand further, they would have found out that there are a world of possibilities out there. The biases we have to put with.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Violence Against Blacks

We’ve been reminded yet again that blacks in Brazil have their work cut out for them and that they still have a tough row to hoe when it comes to human rights.

A black man as president of the most powerful country in the world is no guarantee that those born with an excess of melanin will all of a sudden be walking streets paved with gold. No, Siree, they won’t.

Not because they don’t want to. Because some people don’t want them to. Especially some youngsters with nothing better to do and who call themselves skinheads (neo-nazis?) have taken to attacking “people of color” for no apparent reason other than their being black.

Neo-nazis you say? Skin-heads? In Brazil? At least they think they are. Not on hitlerian terms, though. Or is it? We now know that genetics has completely debunked Hitler’s claims of racial purity by saying that we are all the same underneath.

Something does not add up here. If you wanted to be a skinhead or whatever, should you not be born of racial stock originating in northern Europe? You be the judge.

On Pool Parties, Lollipops and Furious Neighbors

It has just occurred to this humble writer that in order to raise some badly needed cash to get some outstanding debts (heaped on him through no fault of his own and he is glad to say he is biding his time...) out of his sight, he should throw a pool party. That is, throw open the doors of his condo and welcome his guests on a hot Sunday afternoon. Poo, poo, there is a pool in the premises. All of his own.

All this because a friend of his, named after a goddess, says she is attending one such event in which if you attend wearing pool-wear you pay less or in full clothes, you pay more. And you get, guess what, lollipops. Very interesting.

For that to happen, he should perhaps consider adding sleeping (of the phytotherapeutic kind) "chemicals" (very temporarily) into the water reservoir and have his two-hundred-year-old neighbors doze off for a few hours thereby avoiding being bothered with their complaints of the loud noise seeping down. And other reverberations...

He should perhaps start weighing the pros and cons: damage to his property and whatnot, booze, tropical juices and fruits and beer. Ah, the clean-up crew he should hire for the after-party.

Or better still, if he could get his hands on any two such guests and yoke them and, whip in hand, have them scrub the tiles and, quite frankly, change the water in the pool. Is it worth the stress? Oh, Summer vagaries.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why? Why? Why? Why?

An honor-killing? We must spread the word.

Ahmet is my family, too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

On Fundamentalist Protestantism

Video from:

Fundamentalist Protestantism and how it is spreading its roots in our societies. It is happening in the United States, it is happening in Latin America.

Religion has been drilled into us from day one and our inherent fear of God will forever have us shackled to limitations imposed by Churches. We have been taught that Salvation is only achieved through this or that religion. They are now competing, jostling for space. And they want our money.

As the above video shows, the battle cry is MONEY! How more is never enough and all for the service of God. Some of them have been repeating the same line for years. Some of them have been saying that the money is for good causes in Africa. Africa today is still where it was fifty years ago. Africa is their bank accounts.

Scariest of all is the notion that now these Protestants are gaining political force and are part and parcel of conservative political parties. A stumbling block to many avant-garde changes in fundamental Human Rights.

What we need is a more humanistic approach to education. People have to be taught that if they do not display get-up-and-go they will never accomplish anything. God will never, miraculously, shower them with bounties.

Disparities and discrepancies in education have been present in the Americas for centuries. A massive effort to overhaul our educational systems and grant each and everyone quality teaching is the answer. No amount of church-going will change that fact. No amount of praying to some God will change that. No amount of fire and brimstone will cause a shift in the corralled mentality that has been with us ever since we came to be.

Perhaps then, with strong and critical minds, we will be able to better analyze the rhetoric of preachers and their pestilential notions of Divinity. Or better still, they will have faded into the distant past. Lord, help us.

To explore further:

Christian Fundamentalism Exposed


"In the 18th century the Enlightenment and Evangelical revivals would moderate each other. By the 1870's until today, fundamentalist Protestantism would be at war with both modern science and personal liberty. (Modernism) Today fundamentalists make up about 20 percent of the American population. Most are law-abiding citizens but about one-fourth (5% of the population) belong to assorted fringe churches and operate a kind of low-level terrorism such as attacks on abortion clinics, racism and anti-Semitism, the militia movements, etc. They are obsessed with conspiracy theories claiming Jews, Freemasons, Satan, etc. control America and an apocalypse due any day."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Say No More: The Banned Words of 2010

Say No More: The Banned Words of 2010

From Time Magazine:


The complete 2010 list:
1. Shovel-ready
2. Transparent/Transparency
3. Czar
4. Tweet
5. App
6. Sexting
7. Friend as a verb
8. Teachable Moment
9. In These Economic Times...
10. Stimulus
11. Toxic Assets
12. Too Big to Fail
13. Bromance
14. Chillaxin'
15. Obama as a prefix

My take:

Not just yet, please. Before you relegate these words to the sidelines, let me try my hand at them.

Shovel-ready, to implement or to bury. I'll take the second: In a previous post, I bade good riddance to things and people I liked the least in 2009. In my mind, they are shovel-ready to go eat grass from underneath.

Transparent, as in see-through. As in: Political transparency is wishful thinking. There is no transparency in politics.

Czar, someone in a position of high authority. As in: We will find czars in politics. Especially the partisan kind.

More: I tweet, I don't take kindly to new apps and I never sext. I sex. Friending people who just pick me out of a list of millions is a daunting task.

I consider it a teachable moment when I finally see things in my face. And in these economic times, to overspend is not a good idea, especially in the United States.

Stimulus package of several kinds...Do you agree? Those toxic assets remind me never to invest in some banks on Wall Street. Shudder.

Too big too fail. Well, The higher you go, the higher the fall. It fails, believe me.

Bromance. In your dreams. It usually is so open nowadays. Where is the magic of bromance?

I chillax when I write. And finally, I wish my American friends lots of Obama-hope.

On Red Flags

Obviously, it is unfathomable the repercussion of the facts laid bare on the video above. The whole HIV science is so entrenched in our imaginary that anything resembling dissidence will cause disbelief if not outright shock.

To deny what we have been reading over the last twenty-five years and also to deny deaths of friends because of the so-called HIV label is near to impossible. However, what the chief AIDS exponent and recipient of a Nobel Prize, Luc Montagnier, had to say about HIV is groundbreaking. And dogma-shattering.

If what the dissidence says about the whole AIDS Construct is true, please stop this Earth-ship, I want to get off to never be born on this hellhole, yes, worse than hell, again. At least in hell you know what to expect.

Friday, January 1, 2010

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions: Advice from the Experts

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions: Advice from the Experts

A Time Magazine Article


"Consciously and unconsciously, people tend to imitate those around them. That's why the latest research shows that things like happiness, quitting smoking and obesity can spread like a contagion through social networks. So, surround yourself with friends who can also be role models. "Make sure that people you hang out with are people who look and act the way you would like to. Social imitation is the easiest form not only of flattery but of self-improvement," says Stanton Peele, author of Seven Tools to Beat Addiction."

My take:

Social imitation is conducive to good and bad behavior. We just have to remember what our mothers tried to drill into our thick heads when they did not like our friends or "those people" we were hanging around with.

Now if you really want to break that habit, you have to "quit cold turkey" as they say in this piece. There is no use experimenting with hiatuses of abstinence of whatever kind. Also, the idea of moderation seems very appealing. Mind you, if you are doing crack, please, there is no idea of moderation, as far as I know. Quit immediately.

Now, if you are a pathological liar, a fraud, an empty-vessel, a lost cause, there could be one little thing you could do: Own up to your weaknesses and tell the persons with whom you have some involvement so that they will not find out the hard way and catch you with your pants down. It is by far the best way and they might even thank you for it.

On Good-luck Charms and How Things Remain the Same

2010 has just arrived, reality starts settling in. We unfocus our gaze from our good-luck charms to start looking around and see if things have changed overnight. They have not.

Those charms have not helped one bit and a sense of failure keeps poking its ugly head through the filmy layer of hope in which we have wrapped our resolutions.

Is it too early to be gloomy about the prospects for 2010? We are barely half a day into the new decade, you say. You are right about that. However, we must not be led astray by a false sense of hope and believe that our more immediate concerns, those that touch us to the core, will all of a sudden vanish into thin air and reality will be transformed in our favor. Far from that.

What we have to do in this next decade is to advance the fight, or struggle, if you prefer, for human rights. There is a great deal of work to be done and we have to start rolling up our sleeves and getting down to some real action. We can all enumerate a list of advances and setbacks we have seen in ten years.

We have to put pressure on our politicians so that they will start responding less to corporate interests and more to people’s real needs and that goes for both the north and the south of the planet.

We are sure each one of us has a list of grievances we would love were seen to. If we want to build on top of the first decade of this century, this is the time.