Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jeff Quinn's "Man On The Scene: Kaliu"--Insights into Taiwan and East Asia

Quinn, Jeff. (2011) Man On The Scene: Kaliu , U.S.A.: Create Space
Books, pp. 282

By Kevin Anthony Stoda

“Kaliu” is a word in the Matsu/Fujian dialect—and also used in Taiwan—which means to enjoy one's stay or enjoy one's self. According to the author, Jeff Quinn, visitors to the Matsu region of Taiwan are sometimes told to “kaliu their stay.”

With Man On The Scene: Kaliu, Jeff Quinn has taken time to write and publish another important work of his--as part of his series entitled “Man on the Scene”. One can see other examples of Jeff’s publishing links at:


Before I begin a review of Jeff’s newest Man-on-the-Scene work, I would like to allow Jeff to share a bit, in his own words, about his memories and the reflections on his corners of Asia as revealed in one of the historical interpretations of life & in both the Matsu Archipelago and Taiwan, i.e. in the legends of the Little B. People.


Concerning founding myths of Taiwan, Jeff Quinn shares, “[c]onsensus has it [that] the first occupants of what would later be called Taiwan arrived 5,000 to10,000 years ago. It is surmised that the northern tribes hailed from from modern-day Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia, while the southern aboriginal groups display Mayalo/polynesian roots. But then, nobody seems to know for sure.”
Quinn then raises the question in his own rye-humor, ”Five to ten thousand years simply "lost" to history. What went on? Family bonding? War, peace, and the occasional headhunting outing? I don't know about you, but I've always found these "lost" years intriguing. Lacking documentation or a written history, these people, who lived for thousands of years receive a paragraph or two in the annals of history, while those living in Taiwan for brief blinks of an eye, such as the Spanish, receive ten times the inky output. After saying this, I'm about to do the same, as I know squat about these mysterious hunter-gatherer types who presumably lived wild and exciting, albeit short, lives, scampering around the island doing their best to stay alive.”
Jeff proceeds in his stream-of-consciousness style, observing that there is “an amusing historical aside concerning a group known as the Little Black People (no I didn't make that up) to share. It is speculated that the group were descendents of the Negrito race, dispersed widely throughout the world at the time. I must confess up front that there is a fair amount of debate whether the Negrito race ever made it to Taiwan. Furthermore, there is also a fair amount of debate whether there was actually a tribe known as the Little Black People (sometimes referred to as the Short Black People) living on the island of Taiwan at all.”
Interestingly, “[I]f you ask the aboriginal Saisiyat people, there is no doubt as to whether the LBP ever resided in Taiwan. The Saisiyat biannually celebrate a raucous ritual known as Pas-ta'ai, said to appease an ancient curse placed on their tribe by the LBP centuries earlier. The curse was believed to cause crop failure and to inflict general misfortune and ill will on the Saisiyat. Accordant to Saisiyat lore, the LBP once dwelled within the caves of a certain steep ravine in central Taiwan. It was said the LBP were extremely knowledgeable in the ways of agriculture. They were also allegedly keen at throwing bashes and partying. Much to the Saisiyat's sorrow, the LBP also had an uncanny pension for accosting young Saisiyat women by making lewd advances and flirting whenever they got the chance. One day, it was said, a certain faction of the LBP went too far by ‘molesting’ (what I infer as raping) a young Saisiyat princess and her handmaidens.”
The story doesn’t end there and the Jeff Quinn continues to interview about half the population of Taiwan to get at the truth on this early history of his new-but-temporary homeland. Eventually, after various anecdotes and alternative historical narrations have been shared and pursued, Quinn asks the big question, “So, did the Little Black People live in Taiwan or not? It seems doubtful that we'll ever know for sure. In 2004, Taiwanese Vice President, Annette Lu, made the bold, if not misguided statement, that an extinct race of ‘black pygmies’ (the LBP) were the original race to inhabit Taiwan. As you can probably imagine, this didn't go over very well with some of the other aboriginal tribes still living on the island. Goofy or not, the celebrations continue today, taking place every two years during the 10th lunar month, with larger festivals held every ten years. The celebrations last three full days and are said to resemble dance marathons.”

NOTE: Jeff notes, “It appears the Little Black People also roamed around China for a time. Known by the Chinese during the Three Kingdom Periods (AD 220 to AD 260) as "black dwarfs", these people were said to possess dark skin, curly hair, and broad noses. Whether they were related to the LBP or not remains a mystery.”

Another great sample of the writing genre created by Jeffery Michael Quin is provided in the chapter in Man on the Scene, Kaliu on “beetle nuts” —a topic I never once covered (nor observed) when living in and writing on the Matsu Islands and in Taiwan. In short, like any fly-on-the-wall perspectives on Asia, we (I) ignore what is being spit on the sidewalk in front of us.

This acknowledgement that I did not personally observe the usage and abuse beetle nuts does not mean that I did not have the awareness and the eye for the signs of this sort of substance while living in Taiwan. I read, in fact, quite a bit in Amy C. Liu’s, TAWAIN A TO Z: The Essential Cultural Guide, about the commonness of this addictive chewing habit in Southern regions of Taiwan.

As well, I would have to say that the Taiwanese were more likely to hide or be quite secretive about their habits in front of us school teachers on Beigan island, where I lived 7 miles north of where Jeff Quinn did. (Likewise teachers have had to hide all-kinds of bad habits, such as smoking or excessive drinking, from their pupils and others on the same island. Such is the life of those living and working in small town.) The silence of peoples on the northernmost island of Matsu, where I lived, reflected a desire to not appear too self-critical of their own nation or peoples in the presences of a foreigner.

“A Nutty Habit”... in the words of Jeff Quinn in “Kaliu”

Here is Jeff Quinn’s spin on a nutty matter that colored his stay in Taiwan.

“Soon after arriving on the island, I began noticing a substantial portion of the male race engaged in a habitual ritual...The indulgence of betel nut. The reddish orange teeth were a dead giveaway.” Jeff asks, “So what exactly are these curious little nuts and why all the fascination with them? Well for starters, the nuts referred to as betel nuts aren't betel nuts at all. The nuts are actually harvested from tall, wispy areca palm trees native to the shores of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Areca nuts are slightly smaller than your average walnut and are extremely hard. Although some users opt to add candy or tobacco, there are basically three main components involved in the preparation of chewing grade betel. First, it is of course necessary to procure the aforementioned areca nuts. The nuts are then wrapped inside a freshly picked leaf from the betel tree (thus the name betel). Lastly, in order to generate the ‘kick’ or desired effect, an alkaloid known as arecoline must be introduced. One of the most popular means of triggering this chemical process is through the use of lime powder derived from crushed oyster shells. One now has the requisite components of the three-part harmony.”
Moreover, “[s]o where do they chew the stuff? Before answering, I must inform you that betel nut chewing is really betel nut sucking. But as that sounds somewhat grotesque we'll refer to the practice here to fore as betel nut indulgence. That just sounds better doesn't it? Betel nut indulgence is found in nearly every nook and cranny throughout the continent of Asia. Strangely, the practice is virtually unknown throughout most of the western world. The reddish-orange stains gracing sidewalks and streets remind me of the Old West, to a time when chewing tobacco was at its height of popularity in the America. Just like back then, there are signs informing people that betel spitting is prohibited. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, “No Betel Nut Chewing” signs are posted right alongside ‘No Smoking’ signs. Though I must admit I never came across any of these signs on Nangan, just a lot of juice.”


Looking at the photo on the cover of Jeff Quinn’s newest book, Kaliu, I am reminded that I, myself, went swimming from that same “semi-militarized” beach a year ago this spring, i.e. with Jeff and his wife looking on from the same shore. That particular shoreline can be seen from the school where Jeff used to teach and live on the island of Nangan (in the Matsu archipelago) in Taiwan. The Matsu chain of islands are only a hop across a small straight from mainland China’s province of Fujia (also called Fukian).

Like Jeff Quinn, I had lived in the Matsu Islands (but on Beigan Island) in 2010-2011. Likewise, I taught in the same local school districts as Jeff for the County of Lienchiang. I wrote about my time there extensively on the internet, e.g.




In contrast, Jeff Quinn has taken to more clearly explain how “[w]hile technically Taiwanese soil, or rock, as the islands are composed mainly of granite, the Matsu Islands share close cultural ties with neighboring China.”

“The Matsu Islands, commonly referred to as the ‘Pearls of Eastern Fujian’ . . . are said to resemble a string of pearls lying off the mouth of the Min River Delta near Fuzhou. The Matsu chain consists of 19 islands and islets lending themselves to 22 villages and 137 neighborhoods; all of which are administered by Lienchiang County, Taiwan.” [The county is divided into four townships: Nangan Township (which translated means Southern Fishing Pole), Biegan Township (Northern Fishing Pole), Juguang Township (Brilliance of the Ju Kingdom), and Dongyin Township (Welcoming the East).” ]
I concur with Jeff that “[f]or those who've spent time in Taiwan, the Matsu Islands will certainly exhibit a different vibe. Matsu islanders tend to march to their own beat, having more in common with the Eastern Fujian or Eastern Min region of China in terms of tradition and culture, than that found across the straits in Taiwan proper, where most speak Hakka, a southern Fujian dialect. Although Mandarin Chinese is the official language, residents of Matsu speak a northern Fujianese dialect called Pinghua, which is wholly unintelligible to Mandarin speakers.”

Jeff adds, “For many years the islands [of Marsu] were off-limits to those in mainland China. Conversely, mainland China was also off-limits to those in Matsu. A policy known as Three Small Links was instituted in 2001, allowing for limited trade and travel between Fujian ports and Matsu, as well as Kinmen. A ferry now runs several times a day between Fu'ao Harbor in Nangan and the port city of Mawei, southeast of Fuzhou.” For this reason, some students of ours had visited mainland China several times—implying that the border was fairly wide-open.
However, as Jeff and his wife came to discover, international relations and confusion about spheres of influence in the multipolar Chinas of 2012 continue to make it difficult for non-Chinese to travel between what is known as mainland China and what we currently call Taiwan. This becomes very clear if a non-Chinese or non-Taiwanese would try to cross the small straight on a boat or ferry to the other shore.
In a way, this sort of confusion at what it means to live and travel in a globally integrated world are revealed both in Jeff’s reflections in Kaliu and in the reality of the confusing geo-political hotspot--which we all still-know as the Two-China Policy reality that U.N. member states and their citizens have been confronting for 4 decades now.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Fridays in Salalah, Oman--and you are welcome to Come!

Fridays in Salalah, Oman

By Kevin Stoda

Over the first two months of 2012, both the weather on Fridays and the waves of the Arabian Sea have been calm and relaxing. Fridays are the almost universal day-off in the Middle East, and in Salalah--with its banana and coconut plantations--one finds no exception. After church on Friday mornings I often return to my flat to spend time with my family. However, after lunch, I hop on my Indian bicycle and begin a slow peddle to the seashore of Haffa Beach.


Riding an Indian bicycle is definitely more relaxing in Salalah than in many parts of crowded India. Indian bicycles are industrially built and very heavy. Aside from the cluster of a handful of urban centers which are found near shopping and government buildings, Salalah is a relatively rural regio. I live in Al Qoaf, which has small and older Lulu’s and Istaqrar shopping centers. When I first leave my flat, I ride through many small streets to arrive in front of Lulu’s on Matar Street in Al Qoaf.


“Matar” is both the Arabic word for rain and for airport. There is not much rain this time of year in the Dhofar region where Salalah is located, but as I turn right on Matar Street and head to the seaside at the neighborhood of Haffa, both the Salalah International Airport and Burg al-Nadha (Clocktower) round about is to my back. Early on Friday afternoons, traffic is still not heavy and there are often even a few other bikers about—enjoying the relaxing spirit of the day. Nonetheless, there are still many more Indians and Pakistanis on foot—than cars or bicycles during early Friday afternoons


Some people take time on Friday’s to tour one of the longest tombs in the world, located between Lulu’s and the Haffa House. It is ehinda mosquea and I am wearing shorts, so I do not often approach any mosques on Friday but I encourage you to come to this tomb some day.


This is “[t]he tomb of Nabi Imran (or Joachim; Arabic: عمران ) supposed to be the Father of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ (Aramaic, Hebrew: מרים, Maryām Miriam Arabic:مريم, Maryam).”

Fridays in Dhofar is the time for people from all over the region—including those working in the mountains and to the desert beyond--to head into Salalah town and visit friends, do shopping, or to bring in vegetables to sell in the small Friday market, near the crossing where old and new Salalah meet. Likewise, some men are invariably carrying cricket bats and walking hand-in-hand to or from the sea—or to-or-from the mosques and markets. Many South Asians smile and wave at me because it is rare for them to see a Caucasian riding an Indian-made bicycle around town. I nod, laugh, and wave back as I proceed slowly up towards the seaside from Al-Qoaf.


As I pedal away from the more urban-looking part of town, I find myself in the midst of rural traffic--with gardens popping up on both sides of the road. Some gardens and plantations are walled in.

The smell of colitis rises as up through the air as the first banana trees pop up under the coconut fronds and palms. There are some curves in the road, so I have to be prepared for any racing drivers who might head my way—but as I have noted, it is Friday afternoon (and like Sunday mornings in other corners of the globe) there are fewer maniacs on the rode at this junction in time. (Oman is one of the more dangerous countries for driving accidnts.)


Haffa Village is one of the more ancient settlements in the area and many of the buildings are single story and/or rundown—except for a few examples of tourist housing located right up near the sea. The small village of Haffa is also Salalah’ promenade or Corniche road. Later, on Friday evenings all the parking spaces along the sea for several kilometers are filled with cars and peoples from all-over enjoying the sunset from Haffa.

Looking from the white sandy beach several kilometers to the south one can view Salalah’s enormous port. Many miles to the east one views the hills along the sea. When it is hazy, one can only view as far as the Salalah Crown Plaza Hotel.


When I arrive -- usually between 2 and 3 pm-- on my bicycle at Haffa seaside, there are only a few men searching for shells and small sea creatures to fish with. Others are already fishing with nets—as their ancestors have done for millennia.

Still others use poles. A few children play along the beach while legions of sea gulls stand on the shores as far as the eye can sea. A few albatross, pelicans and other larger sea birds fly overhead.


The seawater is surprisingly clear at Haffa Beach on Fridays, and the city’s cleaners have picked up a lot of the garbage that littered the seaside only hours earlier. So far, I have not observed any dangerous waves from the sea at Haffa this time of year. I usually swim out to sea a bit and then proceed eastwards towards the far-distant Paris Café for about ¾ of a kilometer before turning back to where I began. (I should warn readers that during the rainy season—from July through September—no swimming is allowed here in Haffa as the waves are tremendously strong and dangerous then. Many people have drowned over the years at Haffa Beach when they disobeyed the loic of the se changes in Rainy season or al-Khareef.)


As I am drying off and once again preparing to peddle back to Al Qoaf, I usually chat with some of the beachcombers and fisherman at Haffa. I then finally jump back on my heavy Indian-built bike and pump across the sand, amongst a few coconut trees, and then past the ancient small mosque and restaurants at Haffa. By then, a major cricket match is winding down across the way at the junction in the road where I turn back towards Salalah’s banana and coconut farms.


Often, when I peddle back towards Salalah town proper, I observe large birds, like falcon or buzzards flying overhead. Amongst the banana plants, though, I also observe Great Blue Herron and other species of birds and interesting plants. The ride back to my habitation in Al Qoaf seems faster than my original ride to the sea—which leads me to believe that Salalah is located in a depression where an ancient harbor has been filled in by mountains of dirt arriving from the Dhofar mountains over the millennia via Indian monsoon down pours. (This is because I feel that I am bicycling down an incline when I arrive back in Al Qoaf from the sear at Haffa.)


If I am feeling strong enough, I peddle up along the Airport Promenade, which is lined with flowers, palm trees, gazebos, and other interesting sights for over a kilometer—starting from the aforementioned Clock Tower Roundabout.. Likewise the same promenade continues a mile to the east and several miles to the west on Robot Street, which intersects Matar Street at the same roundabout.


FINALLY: You are welcome to visit Salalah any time—not just on Fridays--, though.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Let's show the SEC that consumers and shareholders oppose secret corporate political spending.

Dear Kevin,

Did you know that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the authority to pull back the curtain on the secret corporate money turned loose on our elections by Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling?

It's true. As the agency created to protect investors from corporate abuse, the SEC would be well within its authority to require that publicly traded corporations disclose how they're spending money to tilt our elections.

But the SEC won't act without pressure. And that's where you come in.

Let's show the SEC that consumers and shareholders oppose secret corporate political spending.

Tell the SEC to require corporations to disclose their spending on politics.

Whether you're a consumer or an investor, the money we put into corporations should not be used as a political weapon.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can take back our democracy.

Tell the SEC: Bring corporate spending on elections into the sunshine.

Requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose how they're trying to influence elections can make a big difference in 2012. Let's make sure that we can hold accountable the corporations that use Super PACs and other groups to funnel money – often in secret – into our elections.


Bob Edgar
and the rest of the team at Common Cause

Common Cause is a national nonpartisan organization with chapters in 35 states. Our mailing address is 1133 19th Street NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036. Our phone number is (202) 833-1200.



Don't attack Iran.
Dear Kevin,
Just as we're winding down the disastrous and unnecessary war in Iraq, the very same people who misled our nation into invading Iraq are now saying that now we need to attack Iran.

Make no mistake, a war with Iran would be a monumental disaster. Numerous policy experts have stated that attacking Iran will only serve to harden Tehran's resolve to obtain nuclear weapons, while dragging America into yet another war that would cost trillions of dollars and far too many lives.

Yet the Republican presidential frontrunners, taking a page out of John McCain's "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran" playbook, have all recklessly boasted of their willingness to attack Iran if elected.1 And if that's not scary enough, President Obama has pointedly and repeatedly refused to take a military strike off the table.2

Tell President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich: Don't attack Iran. Click here to automatically sign the petition.
We remember too well in the lead up to the Iraq War the hysteria about weapons of mass destruction and how neoconservatives promised it would be a "cakewalk." There are disturbing parallels between that time period and where we find ourselves today.

While there are no easy solutions to addressing the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we push back on the ever increasing calls for war with Iran.

All the saber rattling about attacking Iran is happening even though the most recent National Intelligence Estimate says that Iran may have no intention of actually building a nuclear weapon.3

The belligerent rhetoric and blatant propaganda aside, diplomatic avenues are still viable. As two former U.S. ambassadors wrote recently in a Washington Post OpEd:4

History teaches that engagement and diplomacy pay dividends that military threats do not. Deployment of military force can bring the immediate illusion of "success" but always results in unforeseen consequences and collateral damage that complicate further the achievement of America's main objectives. Deploying diplomats with a strategy while maintaining some pressure on Iran will lower Tehran's urgency to build a bomb and reduce the danger of conflict.
We have a moral imperative to avoid wars of choice, and even in the amoral terms of national interest it's not hard to see how rashly attacking Iran would likely be completely counterproductive.

We can't wait for the first bombs to drop. We need to speak out now.

Tell President Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich: Don't attack Iran. Click below to automatically sign the petition:

Thank you for speaking out.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. "GOP candidates say they may back attack on Iran nukes," David Jackson, USA Today, Nov. 12, 2011.
2. "No Israeli Decision on Iran Attack, Obama Says," Scott Shane, New York Times, Feb. 5, 2012.
3. "U.S. intelligence: Iran leaders reopened nuke debate," Mark Hosenball, Reuters, Feb. 17, 2012.
4. "Military action isn't the only solution to Iran," William H. Luers and Thomas R. Pickering, Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2012.


More than 70% of our people live in extreme poverty – even with this multi-billion dollar treasure. Why? Because oil companies make secret deals with

More than 70% of our people live in extreme poverty – even with this multi-billion dollar treasure. Why? Because oil companies make secret deals with our governments, enabling corrupt leaders to put billions into their own pockets

Dear Kevin,

Right now, some of the world’s biggest oil companies are fighting to keep some very big secrets.

My country – like most of Africa – is rich in resources. Equatorial Guinea is blessed with oil. But more than 70% of our people live in extreme poverty – even with this multi-billion dollar treasure. Why? Because oil companies make secret deals with our governments, enabling corrupt leaders to put billions into their own pockets.

Two years ago, you helped win a hard fought battle to make sure that these companies – by law – must reveal what they pay. But now, oil company lobbyists are pressuring the Securities and Exchange Commission to secretly kill the best parts of the law and keep these deals hidden.

Tell the SEC to put an end to these closed door deals once and for all.

The petition reads:

Dear SEC Commissioners,

Please do not give in to industry pressures on Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act (the Cardin-Lugar Amendment) – and make sure that ALL companies are covered, every country and every project gets reported, and loopholes that would allow large sums of money to go unreported are closed.

I was born and grew up in a dictatorship. That’s why I’ve spent much of my life fighting corruption. I’ve seen friends beaten. I’ve seen people jailed for calling out their leaders. And I know Africans can’t win this fight alone.

When the US Congress passed the Cardin-Lugar Amendment in 2010 (with help from ONE, Publish What You Pay and EG Justice), it was a big step forward in combating corruption. When we can see what our governments are paid, we can make sure money is spent saving lives and building schools, not lining the pockets of the politically powerful.

We’ve got to make sure that when the SEC acts (rumor has it they’re doing this very soon), big oil companies don’t change the rules behind our backs.

Click the link below to automatically add your name and tell the SEC not to let big oil win:


Corruption deprives nations of their future. Let’s put an end to this outrage today.

-Tutu Alicante, ONE member and founder of EG Justice


ISR--Would You Stick It Out? Or Run?

Would You Stick It Out? Or Run?
When you find yourself in an intolerable school situation do you stick it out or run for your life? Opinions vary, with each side of the dilemma adamant about its position:

I’D RUN FOR IT: “There is no honor in suffering. The idea that working at a rotten school in a lousy country, educating a do-nothing population with no interest in academics will somehow make you a better teacher or a better person is pure malarkey! Suffering is suffering no matter how you cut it & the less time of your professional life you can spend doing it, the better. Some schools are so god-awful, shifty, & immoral, the most honorable thing to do is to call it a day & RUN!”

“I could have run away from the job, but I felt the experience would actually serve me well in the future & that as a professional I could learn from what was happening in the school. My colleagues thought that if I left without notice & the school could not find a replacement, the children’s education would ultimately suffer. As an educator first & foremost, I could not leave the students.”


See the results of the survey at ISR at the link


A new NBC investigation shows how legal loopholes let dangerous people buy guns online -- no background check, no questions asked

Dear Kevin,

NBC’s Today Show just aired a shocking seven-minute exposé of the sprawling online black market for guns. This investigation was inspired by a recent New York City undercover probe of illegal online sales - and the incredible work supporters like you are doing to force Washington to focus on this deadly loophole in our laws.

And you won’t believe the worst part. Investigators met a gun seller in a mall parking lot and easily bought a military-grade, 50-caliber sniper rifle powerful enough to take down a helicopter. All with no background check – and no questions asked.

You helped introduce legislation in Congress that would stop these kinds of sales and fix our broken background check system. But Congress has failed to act.

We can no longer allow guns to get into the hands of dangerous people without a simple, instant background check. It’s time to demand answers.

Watch NBC’s exposé of our broken background check system, then call your Senators to demand answers.

NBC even hired a former federal law enforcement official to aid the investigation. He didn’t mince words about the dire situation:
“It’s like a weapons bazaar for criminals. There’s no background check: Anybody -- somebody that has a murder conviction -- can simply log on, email someone, meet 'em in a parking lot, and buy a freaking AK-47.”
The loopholes in the law make buying deadly guns with no question asked easy. And every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. Please join us in asking our leaders to put a stop to the deadly toll gun crime takes on families and communities around the country. Demand answers from Congress.

Thanks for taking action,
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

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Don, the prominent American Omani, has passed

Don, the prominent American Omani, has passed

I had read about the Don family when I first came to Oman. He and his still-living wife, Eloise, have lived a life well-worth living.–KAS

Don’s demise marks end of an era

Times of Oman

SAGA of service: Renowned surgeon Dr Donald Bosch was the first American to be awarded the Order of Oman by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, for his service to the country. – Supplied photos

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MUSCAT: Well known personality Dr Donald Taeke Bosch passed away at his home in Haramel last night. He was a friend of all who met him and spent his life serving others. He was known for his warm smile, quick sense of humour, and his empathy for those in need.

As a specialist surgeon who worked in Oman for most of his medical career, he saved many lives at a time when medical services were limited. He was the first American to be awarded the Order of Oman by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said in 1972 for his service to the country.

Dr Bosch also authored a number of books on seashells of Oman and the Gulf region. But his life history also includes his experience as a decorated World War II soldier, an accomplished public speaker, and a competitive tennis player.

Don, as he was known among his friends, arrived with his wife Eloise and children in Oman in January, 1955, having spent the previous three years in Iraq learning Arabic and working at the local mission hospital.

Don worked for many years as a surgeon in the American Mission Hospital in Muttrah (later called Ar-Rahma Hospital), while his wife, Eloise, was a teacher at the American Mission School in Muscat.

Dr Bosch worked alongside the legendary Dr Wells Thoms, who had been in Oman for many years. When Dr Thoms retired in 1970, Don succeeded him as chief medical officer of the hospital. Don later became the medical officer in-charge of Khoula Hospital, having successfully helped to incorporate the mission hospitals into the new Ministry of Health hospital programme.

Upon retiring from his position at Khoula Hospital in 1983, the Bosches were awarded Omani nationality and provided a home in Haramel, in recognition for their many years of service to the people of Oman. Don also served as an adviser to the Minister of Health during his retirement years.

Life story
Donald was born in Amoy, China, on December 9, 1917, the second of five children, and lived there until he was 12-year-old. His father, Dr. Taeke Bosch, was a doctor in-charge of a Christian mission hospital, and his mother, Margaret Brown Bosch, was a teacher who home-schooled her five children. Moving to the United States at age 12, he moved quickly through secondary school and attended the State University of Iowa, where he was awarded an MD degree in 1941 at age 23.

Don married Eloise Boynton on April 11, 1942.
Don’s medical internship and surgical specialisation was interrupted by the Second World War. In 1942, he joined the US Army Medical Corps, where he was assigned to the 78th Infantry Division. In 1946, he returned to the US and left the Army to continue his specialisation in surgery, first at Bellevue Hospital in New York and then at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, completing his residency in 1951. In 1950, he was honoured by being named the ‘Outstanding Young Man of the Year’ by the Newark, N.J. Jaycees.

On completing his six years of medical specialisation in surgery, Don accepted an assignment as a surgeon in the Arabian Gulf. The Bosch family arrived in Muscat in January 1955 and Don took up work at the hospital in Mutrah, serving alongside Dr. Thoms and other expatriate American and Indian doctors. Although most of his medical career was spent in Oman, he also served for one year as the CMO of the American Mission Hospital in Kuwait and for two years as the CMO of the American Mission Hospital in Bahrain. In 1958, Dr. Bosch was named a Member of the American College of Surgeons.

Don became a collector of seashells as a result of the family’s weekend visits to the local Omani beaches, where he noticed the many seashells on the shore. He wrote to the Museum of Natural History in New York City, asking them if they would be interested in specimens collected from Oman.

The Museum responded with enthusiasm, advising that they would be happy to identify any specimens that he sent, as their scientists had very little knowledge of the seashells of Oman. Thus began a love affair with the world of conchology. Don would be internationally recognised as an expert on seashells of the Arabian Gulf, and seashells would forever be a family interest and occupation.

In 1982, Don and Eloise co-authored their first book on Oman’s seashells, Seashells of Oman. This effort was followed by Seashells of Southern Arabia in 1989. In 1995, Don organised and co-authored the comprehensive volume that described over 1,000 different local species, Seashells of Eastern Arabia.
Don and Eloise, with the help of their children and grandchildren, discovered over 20 species of seashells in Oman’s waters that were new to science, many of which were named after family members.

One of the most beautiful, well-known species is named Punctada Eloisae after Don’s wife.

In 2000, Don and Eloise, in response to interest about their lives, co-authored a book about their early days in Oman, The Doctor and The Teacher, Oman 1955-1970. At the request of the then Minister of Health, Dr. Ali bin Muhammad bin Moosa, Don researched and wrote, The American Mission Hospitals in Oman, 1893 – 1974, which the Ministry published in 2001, covering the 81 years that the American Mission hospitals served Oman.
Don is survived by his wife Eloise, three children, five grandchildren., and two great grandchildren.


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World’s youth fear jobless future:The Middle East is worst hit with 25.5 percent unemployment among young men and 39.4 percent for young women in 2010

The French press release has hit the nail on the head as to why people are demanding reforms in the Middle East. Let’s hope that Bahrain, Syria, and Iran get a clue and respond more positively to the crises.–KAS

Agence France-Presse

UNITED NATIONS—The world’s young increasingly fear a future without jobs, according to a UN report released Monday which highlighted how the 15-30 age group risks becoming the biggest victims of austerity programs.
The young doubt the education they receive will fully arm them for professional life, said the World Youth Report which questioned about 1,000 people for its study.
“Young people questioned the quality of education they and their peers receive, whether or not it is relevant to available jobs, how their knowledge and skills will serve them in the long-term,” said the survey.
“During economic downturns, young people are often the ‘last in’ and the ‘first out’” out of jobs, the report added.
The 2008-2009 financial and economic crises forced the youth unemployment rate up to 11.9 in 2007 to 13 percent in 2009. It eased back to 12.6 percent in 2010 — when the adult jobless rate was just 4.8 percent.
The Middle East is worst hit with 25.5 percent unemployment among young men and 39.4 percent for young women in 2010, followed by North Africa with a 23.8 percent rate for men and 34.1 percent for women.
The report said high unemployment was one of the key causes of the Arab Spring uprisings.
Young people said they found their educational too theoretical and not geared enough to professional life.
“Today it should be easier to find a job because our generation is the most educated but there is a inadequacy between the training offered and the needs of the labor market,” said Amadou, a 24-year-old from Senegal.
The UN report condemns the restrictive contracts with poor salaries given to first time job seekers.
“Young women are doubly affected as they face not only a lack of opportunities but poor quality of work” with low wages, a lack of security and fewer ways to raise grievances, said Lody, a 25-year-old Cambodian.
The youth criticized a lack of public investment but believe that information technology, health and welfare jobs and the green economy will be boom areas.
“Young people are in general more conscious of global issues like climate change and social equity, I think that promotion of green economies among youth is a winning solution,” said Michael, a 23-year-old Italian.


Perhaps Brazil Will be a Promised Land for World’s Educated Youth et. al.

The Times of Oman ran a big article on why a lot of Americans are going to Brazil to start again these days So I thought I would share the one below, too.–Kevin


Working Abroad in Brazil

Part 1 of 4: What Makes Brazil Attractive?

By Volker Poelzl
Living Abroad Editor

A View of Rio de Janeiro’s business district.

Over the past decade Brazil’s stable and steadily growing economy has significantly raised the country’s clout in the international marketplace. Few people know that Brazil is among the world’s 10 largest economies and that it is Latin America’s largest and wealthiest country.

Brazil is not only a manufacturing giant with huge exports of products from heavy industry (steel, vehicles) and light industry (textiles, leather goods), but also an increasingly important destination for outsourcing of software development and call centers.

Brazil’s economy never suffered the same downturn as most developed countries. While much of the world is still mired in slow growth and recession, Brazil’s economic output keeps growing at a steady pace. The economy is expected to grow a record 7.3 percent in 2010, boosted by strong domestic demand and investments in the private sector. Unemployment in Brazil only rose slightly during the global downturn, and the unemployment rate has been steadily declining since 2008, reaching 7.2% by June 2010. Foreign investment has also remained strong over the past decade encouraged by the fiscal discipline shown by the Brazilian government. Thanks to these stable economic indicators Brazil had a record US$34 billion in direct foreign investment in 2007 and ranks among the most attractive countries for foreign direct investment—a clear sign that foreign companies have confidence in Brazil’s economic future and seek to expand their economic activities in Brazil. In addition, in 2008 Standard & Poor’s, a Wall Street company that conducts financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds, upgraded Brazil’s debt to investment grade for the very first time. This improved rating makes Brazil an even more attractive destination for foreign investment and foreign lending and is another indicator that Brazil will play a growing role in international financial markets. Foreign direct investment not only brings capital but also know-how and new technologies, which require experts and specialists from abroad–a great opportunity for foreign engineers, technicians, and specialists to find work in Brazil.

Economic Diversity

Brazil is an important trading partner for North America, but the relations between the U.S. and Brazil are not just limited to trade, natural resources, and biofuels. There are active collaborations between U.S and Brazilian universities, institutions, and companies on research projects, as well as between cultural, religious and non-profit organizations. So, in addition to job opportunities with multinational corporations there are also opportunities for research and teaching positions at institutions of higher education. The U.S. is currently the second largest investor in Brazil after China. As more American companies and organizations operate in Brazil or collaborate with Brazilian businesses and institutions, there is also a growing demand for a workforce with experience in international business practices, which Brazilian employees often do not have. So while on one hand Brazil’s growing globalization leads to many overseas work opportunities for Brazilians, there are also a growing number of professional job opportunities for foreigners in Brazil.

In addition to a strong manufacturing, mining and petroleum sector, Brazil also has a diverse and well-developed services industry. Information and Communication Technology is the fastest-growing and largest sector, followed by banking, energy, and commerce. With Brazil’s finance sector playing a larger role globally than ever before, there is a demand for financial specialists with global and international business experience, especially since many financial firms operating in Brazil are multinational corporations.

Economic Outlook and Trends

The economic outlook for Brazil is very positive. The economy is expected to continue growing, although a little slower than the 7.2% forecast for 2010. Inflation is expected to be low, and unemployment will most likely decline further. Brazil’s finances are also expected to improve further with large foreign currency reserves, a large budget surplus and a large trade surplus. Credit to businesses is also expected to expand further, giving Brazilian companies the financial tools they need for expansion and innovation. Under the current stable conditions, Brazil’s businesses are expected to continue to grow and expand, creating new jobs both in the manufacturing and fast-growing services sectors. What this means for foreign employees with temporary work permits is that they are likely to keep their employment for the duration of their work contract, and that they may even be offered a contract extension should the positive economic conditions persist over the next few years.

Brazil and the Global Market

According to the Global Competitiveness Report published annually by the World Economic Forum, Brazil continues to improve its ranking, from 72nd position in 2007-2008 to 64th positions in 2008-2009 and 58th position in 2010-2011. This is in part due to better managed public finances and small policy changes that help Brazilian businesses become more competitive on a global scale. The ability to absorb new technologies, Brazil’s own innovative domestic business climate, and increasingly sophisticated financial markets has also contributed to the improved ranking. Another positive factor is Brazil’s large and growing domestic market, which is already the tenth largest in the world.

Where Brazil ranks consistently low in the Global Competitiveness Report and other surveys is in education and the training of its work force. Brazil’s work force is characterized by a low level of education and specialization, and great regional differences. According to a recent New York Times article, the World Bank concluded in a 2008 report (“Knowledge and Innovation for Competitiveness in Brazil”) that Brazil’s current level of education is not sufficient in an era of global competition and that Brazil is likely to fall further behind. In the latest Global Competitiveness Report, Brazil only ranks 76th in tertiary education: only 25 % of the college-age population is enrolled in universities and colleges. In addition, the quality of math and science education remains low: Brazil ranks 117th out of 134 surveyed countries. President Lula began an ambitious education reform program in 2007, but it will be years before a significant improvement will be noticeable among high school graduates.

Although the lack of a well-educated work force will dampen Brazil’s near-term growth potential, the ongoing demand for educated personnel offers opportunities for skilled foreign professionals interested in working in Brazil. As more American and multinational companies and organizations operate in Brazil, there is growth in the demand for American and international employees. Having professional skills that are in great demand and that are not commonly found are the best way to get a job offer from a company in Brazil. The most common jobs available to foreigners are upper management positions at multinational companies and a number of other fields that require special skills that are hard to find in Brazil, such as computer science and information technology. Brazil also has a shortage of scientists and engineers (Brazil ranks 57th in availability of scientists and engineers in the Global Competitiveness Report), which provides additional work opportunities for foreign experts. Unfortunately, Brazil does not have an occupational shortage lists (occupations that are in high demand) as many other countries do. Instead, the merit of a work permit for a foreigner is assessed by the labor department and the immigration authorities on an individual basis as needed, which is a quite bureaucratic and time-consuming process.

Work Opportunities for Foreigners

Most expatriates find employment in the large urban centers in Southeastern and Southern Brazil. São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, and Porto Alegre all have a significant foreign population. Brasília also has a large foreign population, but most work for embassies and foreign missions. The majority of foreigners hired from abroad work in middle/upper management and executive positions, but Brazil is so vast and its economic activities so diverse that foreigners are found in virtually every field of activity. For example, I met an engineer deep in the Amazon who had been working there for two years building diesel generators for the town’s electric supply. Other foreigners I met worked as English teachers, executive assistants, wait staff, and other jobs. So one’s skill level, education, and experience should not deter anyone from looking for a job in Brazil. Keep in mind though that only professions on the upper end of the scale are being paid wages comparable to those in the U.S. and Europe. The engineer in the Amazon was working for a Texas-based company and his salary was paid in U.S. dollars, but if you are hired by a Brazilian company and are paid in the local currency, you will most likely have to expect a pay cut.

But despite the shortage of skilled labor in a number of fields and economic sectors, getting a work permit for Brazil is not easy, since strict labor laws require that employers always give preference to qualified local candidates where available. Even if you are approved for a work permit, there is no guarantee it will be renewed when it expires.

Part 2 of this article will explore the various work options and opportunities for foreigners in Brazil and shed light on the visa application process and other bureaucratic procedures.


Helping Students Improve Their Writing: ESL

Here are a great list of articles on helping students to improve their writings (especially ESL students) .–KAS

We Need To Stress Fundamentals Again In Education

by Richard Brody
When I went to school, the philosophy was to teach the ’3 R’s,’ reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Having come into contact many college students and even graduates, I have found that many exhibit poor writing skills. When I have interviewed young people, and requested three paragraphs from them as part of the process, the result has convinced me that today’s educational system has not sufficiently emphasized this aspect. Read More…


An hour of labor, if not used, is gone. Gone forever.

Dear Kevin:

A “perishable good” is something that declines in value when it is not consumed. Like cranberries. Or football tickets. Or labor.

An hour of labor, if not used, is gone. Gone forever.

Think about it. Today, February 10, 2012, there are millions of Americans who can work, who want to work, and who can’t find a job. There are millions more who want to work a full day today, and will work only for a few hours.

Even if every one of those people somehow found a full-time job between today and Monday, it wouldn’t change the fact that today, they went without work. Their skills, talents, abilities, whatever they have to offer, went unused.

What did that cost? Well, given the fact that there are approximately 24 million Americans in that category, you would have to say that it cost us more than $1 billion, today alone. Easily. We missed out on the $1+ billion in goods and services that they would have produced for us, if they had a job. Their labor simply . . . perished. Vanished. Like an unused football ticket. That game is never played again.

Mitt Romney aside, one does hear from time to time about the plight of the unemployed. But one never hears about the plight of the rest of us, because of high unemployment. We are being denied the benefit of the goods and services that the unemployed would be providing to us, if they could.

I know that the unemployment rate is trending down. But that’s simply not good enough. As a nation, we cannot afford to expel millions of people from the workforce for years on end, and lose the benefit of their labor, just because there might be somewhat fewer people in that position on December 31 than there were on January 1.

If that’s the way that you see it, too, then please sign our petition: We Need Jobs NOW. And please forward this to your friends, and ask them to sign, too. Before another day is lost.


Alan Grayson

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted
with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history
there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of
time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost
opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the
flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage,
but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and
jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words:
‘Too late.’”

- Martin Luther King (April 1967)

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Foxconn, the Mammoth Taiwanese Company–known for its abuses with labor, is Apple’s Partner in China!!

China should be starting the Progressive era of labor relations AND SUPPORT FOR LABORERS , but Western companies, like FOXCONN, are failing to take advantage of the great wealth-created to modernize its labor force. APPLE, Inc. needs to play a role in forcing FOXCONN and others in China to grow up–at least into the 20TH CENTURY!!!–KAS

“Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say [that] legions of vocational and university students, [some] as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long ‘internships’ in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture,” that he puts out, “than the Times does of how Foxconn” works. He says—talks about “‘the Chinese hell factory,’ treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.” Charles?

Some of the tactics that are used by Foxconn and other companies throughout China is, if you are late, if you violate one of the small rules, some of the punishment is that you have to copy down quotations from the chairman of Foxconn, you have to write out confessions explaining why you were late and promising never to do it again. A number of the factories have morning military drills, where you have to line up in formation and remain very still or do calisthenics. It is not a good working environment. It is not a working environment that, by American standards, anyone would tolerate.

Apple, Accustomed to Profits and Praise, Faces Outcry for Labor Practices at Chinese Factories

Protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers in China. The protests come on the heels of recent revelations of harsh conditions and onerous work environments at Apple’s controversial Chinese supplier Foxconn, where more than a dozen employees have committed suicide. We’re joined by New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, who helped break the story about the human costs of Apple products for workers in China. We’re also joined by Mike Daisey, whose acclaimed one-man show, “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” is based partly on his visits to Apple’s Chinese factories and his interviews with the workers there. “I want Apple to take real responsibility,” Daisey says. “They have the resources to change this overnight.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: In consumer news, we turn now to iPhones, iPads and iPods—not what they do, but how they are manufactured. Yesterday, protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers in China. A demonstration at Apple’s Grand Central Terminal store in New York City drew a dozen people, who peacefully handed over a petition with 250,000 signatures to an Apple store manager. Shelby Knox, the director for Change.org, led the effort to collect the signatures.

SHELBY KNOX: We’re asking Apple to make an ethical iPhone. Factories in China and the countries that they’re made suffer horrible labor conditions. And so, we’re asking them to live up to their ethical supplier agreement, make sure that they are under good working conditions, that they’re not using toxins that harm them neurologically, and that they take care of those people as well as they would want their customers to be taken care of.

AMY GOODMAN: The protests come on the heels of a recent New York Times investigation into the harsh conditions, onerous work environments at Apple’s controversial Chinese supplier, Foxconn. According to the reports, workers assembling electronic devices often work seven days a week, live in crowded dorms. Some say they’re forced to stand so long their legs swell until they can hardly walk. The reports also claim under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and some workers have suffered deaths from explosions and maimings. Over a dozen Foxconn employees have committed suicide. According to the New York Times, the company’s suppliers also have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records.

This is what one Foxconn worker told reporters about her experience. She prefered to remain anonymous, so as not to lose her job.

FOXCONN WORKER: [translated] It’s so boring. I can’t bear it anymore. Every day was like, I get off from work, and I go to bed. I get up in the morning, and I go to work. It became my daily routine, and I almost felt like I was some kind of animal.

AMY GOODMAN: That was a Chinese worker at Foxconn, Apple’s controversial Chinese supplier. Meanwhile, Foxconn is battling to contain a security breach after hackers joined the mounting protest over iPhone factory conditions by leaking the login details of its entire staff.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We invited Apple to join us on our show, but they declined. The company did, however, send us this official statement: “We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Our suppliers must live up to these requirements if they want to keep doing business with Apple. Every year Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers.”

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Charles Duhigg, who helped break this story about the human costs of Apple products for workers in China. He’s an award-winning staff reporter for the New York Times.

We’re also joined by Mike Daisey, who performs a one-man show called The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The show is now at the Public Theater in New York. He has visited factories in China that make Apple products and interviewed the workers.

Charles Duhigg, Mike Daisey, welcome to Democracy Now! Charles, let’s start with you, your findings, if you could expand on what prompted you to write this and what you were most surprised by in your research.

CHARLES DUHIGG: Actually, we started a series on focusing on Apple as a lens by which to look at how temporary economics, and particularly American economics, are working now about a year ago. And an important part of that, as we were talking to people who worked with Apple, was the reason why Apple can manufacture these amazing devices now, that appear almost as quickly as their dreamed up, is because manufacturing has been located in—relocated in Asia. And the scale and capacity of manufacturing there is amazing. You can send over plans for an idea and, literally, within weeks have that idea become real.

AMY GOODMAN: You begin one of your pieces by President Obama meeting with Steve Jobs in a group of people. And talk about what Obama asked Jobs.

CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, one of the things that President Obama asked was, is it ever possible to bring back those jobs to the United States, to make iPhones in the U.S.? And what Steve Jobs said was—I think accurately—those jobs are never coming back. And the reason why isn’t just because workers are cheaper in China, although that—they are cheaper in China; it’s because China has established a huge competitive advantage over the U.S. There are supply chains that exist in China and Asia now which the U.S. simply can’t replicate. And there’s a system of labor there that allows factories to hire 3,000 people overnight or, as Mike can speak to, create facilities that house 250,000 workers and change them in a couple of hours or a couple of days from one product to another. It’s an amazing, amazing manufacturing capacity that’s grown up overseas—with harsh costs associated with it, but that makes it possible for us to get a brand new iPhone every single year.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, and I wanted to ask you about that capacity, because we hear a lot about the post-industrial society, but in reality, when you’re talking about these plants that have 100,000 workers, they dwarf anything that the old classic River Rouge plant of Henry Ford had created.

CHARLES DUHIGG: That’s exactly right. America lives—might live in a post-industrial society, but we do so because other countries are entering their industrial society, and they’re entering it at a scale, at a speed, at a perfection of production, that was completely undreamed of in the United States in the past. And I’m sure many of your audience, many people, they carry an iPhone in your pocket. It’s a wonderful device. It’s an amazing device. And it exists only really because there is this nation that can produce it so quickly and so efficiently.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Daisey, first of all, congratulations on your one-man show. I saw it last night. It is shocking and stunning.

MIKE DAISEY: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: You went to China.


AMY GOODMAN: You talked to these workers. Describe the breadth of the place and what you found when you talked to these workers.

MIKE DAISEY: Well, I think this conversation is fantastic. I think that it does feel like we’re in a post-industrial society, so this place is all the engines we need to run everything we make. The scale is really staggering. You’re talking about rooms that hold 20,000, 25,000, 30,000 workers, in enormous rooms where people work silently. I think one of the things we don’t think about a lot is that—when things are made by hand. When the cost of labor is unbelievably cheap, the most effective way to exploit that is to assemble by hand. So, despite the fact that our devices are so advanced, once the parts of that device are made, they’re assembled by hand. So these things that seem so advanced—and are so advanced—the supply chain that’s evolved has a component in it that involves many, many small hands putting your devices together in a row, one after another, despite the fact that your Apple product looks so pristine. In fact, one of the last steps is to put a sticker over it that makes it look as though no human has ever touched your Apple product.

JUAN GONZALEZ: The reason why so many American factories left the United States—as the industrial workers became unionized, they were able to increase the pay and better their working conditions. What—when you started talking to the Chinese workers there, what about the labor unions? What about the ability of the workers to organize in these huge plants? Why has that not occurred at a more rapid and a more developed pace?

MIKE DAISEY: Well, I mean, there’s a really simple explanation. Labor organization in China is illegal. If you organize a union in China that is separate from the Communist Party, and those are largely fronts, in terms of working conditions, you go to prison if you’re caught by the government. So, that largely shuts down any sort of serious effort at labor organization. I think that’s part and parcel of the landscape. I mean, there’s a reason why this environment works so well for the needs of creating a hyperinflated, hyper-growing industrial revolution, and that’s that you have a base of workers who live under an authoritarian government and can be controlled. The circumstances are very controlled. And so, I think that’s part of the equation that we don’t like to look at.

AMY GOODMAN: How the company deals with the suicides, and what actually is happening? What are Chinese workers doing?

MIKE DAISEY: Well, there was a series of suicides at Foxconn where, month after month, workers would go up to the roofs of the buildings and throw themselves off the buildings, in a very public manner. The thing about this is that the number of suicides is not the issue so much as the cluster. The fact that people were choosing to kill themselves in an incredibly public manner is really relevant and has to do, I think, with pressures of the production line. It’s a very intense environment. And the people who come into those jobs are often in a very blessed position. They’ve come from the rural areas, and they’re making a new life for themselves. But they have to send money back to many, many dependents back where they come from. So they’re in a perfect position to be exploited, like they don’t feel, in some cases, like they can leave. And it can be very tough.

AMY GOODMAN: And how the company dealt with the suicides?

MIKE DAISEY: Well, Foxconn chose to deal with the suicides, in the period when I was visiting—what they had done, after month after month of suicides, was put up nets.



AMY GOODMAN: To catch the bodies.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I wanted to ask Charles Duhigg about Foxconn, because one of the abilities of American companies now is to have these foreign suppliers, so that they have this wall, supposedly, between their own employees and employment conditions and these contractors. Who is Foxconn? Who owns it? How did it arise? And what is its importance today in China?

CHARLES DUHIGG: Foxconn is hugely important not only in China—it’s the largest employer in China—Foxconn is important around the world. So, Foxconn—and in some ways, it’s a remarkable story. It started—it’s owned by a Taiwanese gentleman named Terry Gou, who started in Taiwan rebuilding circuit boards in, essentially, a—one little sort of storefront with a couple of other people, very, very low-level labor. And he’s built that now into the largest electronics manufacturer in the world. Forty percent of all electronics sold are assembled by Foxconn. He employs about 1.2 million people in China, so he’s among the largest employers.

And more importantly, the psychological impact of Foxconn is tremendous throughout Asia, because, as Terry Gou has become one of the richest people in the world, he’s shown that there is this path towards enormous wealth creation by taking very, very simple tasks, automating them with humans, and then going and competing for contracts.

And so, one person I talked to, who was a former Apple employee, had told me that basically Apple helped make Foxconn real. You know, they were a large supporter of the company, and have been for many years, because they need Foxconn. Without Foxconn—and there’s only really one or two other companies that can do what Foxconn does—you can’t produce 300 million iPhones. You need a partner like this that you can give designs to, and they can start it rolling out a week later. And Foxconn does it amazingly. Now, conditions inside the plants are fairly harsh, as Mike so eloquently describes. But it is—it’s a new type of company that really we haven’t seen in history.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Apple’s statement on labor and human rights posted on its website. It says, quote, “Apple prohibits practices that threaten the rights of workers — even when local laws and customs permit such practices. We’ve taken action toward ending excessive recruitment fees, preventing the hiring of underage workers, and prohibiting discriminatory policies at our suppliers. As the first technology company to be admitted to the Fair Labor Association, Apple is setting a new standard in transparency and oversight.” Charles Duhigg, your response?

CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, I think—I think that’s all true. I mean, Apple is enormously well-meaning. I’ve spoken to a number of people who currently work at Apple and who have previously worked at Apple on supplier responsibility. And what everyone—

AMY GOODMAN: Under-age workers?


AMY GOODMAN: Under-age workers?

CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, what everyone has said is—I’m sorry, executives, not worker—not the under-age workers.

AMY GOODMAN: No, no. I didn’t mean “have you talked to under-age workers,” but I know, Michael Daisey, you have, what about this issue of saying—

CHARLES DUHIGG: How do you reconcile, right, that—

AMY GOODMAN: —we do not hire—we don’t hire under-age workers?

CHARLES DUHIGG: How do you reconcile that conditions on the ground seem so different from what they’re saying? And when I talk to executives, what they tell me is this: Apple is serious about this. Apple has the largest auditing program in the electronics industry. They have some of the toughest rules. But that there’s a conflict within Apple, which is that when enforcing those rules, when getting really, really tough with suppliers, conflicts with creating the best products possible, with turning out those products as fast as possible, with maintaining relationships with very important suppliers like Foxconn, then the discipline around that, the dedication breaks down. And that’s, for instance—a lot of what we know about under-age workers, a lot of what we know about bonded labor, we only know because Apple went into the factories and told us.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael Daisey has told us a lot, right, by going there. Michael, talk about, first—I mean, you talk about this in your play at the Public Theater. You thought no one would talk to you, that people would be terrified. And you went there with a translator.

MIKE DAISEY: Yeah. Well, I mean, when I arrived, it was May and June of 2010, and so it was a very intense time. It was right when the suicides were happening a lot. And because I am not a journalist, because I work as a monologist, I have the ability, when people ask why I’m asking these questions, this strange American who’s appeared out of nowhere and is just standing around, I’m able to say—

AMY GOODMAN: In a Hawaiian shirt.

MIKE DAISEY: And in a Hawaiian shirt. I’m able to say very honestly that I’m a storyteller, and I just want to hear their stories. And I would ask them to show me what they do every day, like I’d ask them to pantomime the motions that they make when they’re working on the line. And, you know, you’d find people who would talk to you, because people, when you ask them about the steps of their day, will sometimes open up and tell you about their jobs.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did they tell you?

MIKE DAISEY: And what they told me is that the image that happens inside of Foxconn, versus the official story of Foxconn—and, I think, a lens through Apple—they don’t line up. And a lot of it is because there is a strong vested interest in Foxconn to not audit cleanly. Like, one of the things that was told to me is that, when—at the time that I visited, when there is going to be an inspection, an outside inspection, that Foxconn always knows that there’s going to be an inspection. And before the inspection, everything is turned over. Absolutely everything is gone over completely. And they take the precaution, at that time, of pulling everyone from that production line and then putting the oldest-looking workers they have on that line, which tells me that they aren’t even completely confident of their internal processes, at least when I was there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Charles Duhigg, following up on that, you reported that the hundreds of audits that Apple has done every year, even with this preparation by Foxconn, apparently, still is able to document repeated violations of their own standards.


JUAN GONZALEZ: Yet they don’t act. So they do know, and they just are refusing to act, no matter what they say that they would like to have better working conditions at their plants.

CHARLES DUHIGG: Yeah, what Apple says—and you have to take Apple at their word, because this is a major corporation, they usually don’t lie about stuff like this—is that they say every single time they find a violation inside a supplier, that they mandate that a change is made and a management system is put in place in order to prevent that from occurring again. The difficulty is, when you look at the aggregate statistics that Apple publishes every year, we see the same violations occurring again and again and again. There is not enough information in the data for us to say, this one facility seems to be breaking your rule again and again and again. Perhaps everyone is improving, but the pool of inspected facilities is growing, and that’s hiding the upward trend in the improvements.

MIKE DAISEY: It should be said that one of the reasons—

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Daisey.

MIKE DAISEY: One of the reasons we don’t know, like we can’t do analysis on that data, is that Apple has released its list of suppliers, which was wonderful, and I had called for that, but they neglected to connect specific suppliers to violations that they discovered, which makes it very difficult for anyone else to check any of the work that’s happening. There’s a lot of that, where Apple makes a gesture and says a lot about how well-meaning it is, but I do not see the follow-through where the transparency would exist, because Apple, as a company, sort of thrives on a lack of transparency.

AMY GOODMAN: Last night, Michael, in your monologue, you talked about the man with the claw.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this worker.

MIKE DAISEY: This is a worker I spoke with whose hand had been maimed in a metal press. And he said he had not received any medical treatment, and his hand healed this way. And then he had been too slow when he came back to work, and he was fired for being too slow, and then, now worked at a woodworking plant. And he had been working on the line building iPads. And I spoke with—when he told me this, I showed him my iPad, which had just come out right before I went to Shenzhen. And I showed him the iPad, and it was the first time he had seen an iPad in its completed state, because the people on the production line are often very carved off. Each step is very, very minute. The devices are very expensive, of course, and so they’re closely monitored. And so, no one has an opportunity to even handle them, in a way, really, outside of your individual step. And so, I turned it on for him and showed it to him, this thing that he had actually been maimed building. And it was his first time moving the icons back and forth. And he had a very human reaction, which is, he thought it was beautiful, you know? Which I think is understandable, because Apple does make beautiful devices.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And Charles Duhigg, the actual working conditions at these plants, the hours that the workers work, the salaries that they make?

CHARLES DUHIGG: It, by American standards, would be almost unconscionable. So, most workers inside the large plants—small plants are usually worse than large plants—but inside the large plants, they’re usually inside the factory for at least 12 hours a day. There’s some breaks in there. The shifts themselves are about 10 hours. But very often—and Foxconn says this isn’t accurate, so I need to caveat that, but our reporting indicates that it is—very often, people are asked to work two shifts in a row. So it’s not uncommon for someone to spend an entire day within a Foxconn plant.

The amount that they earn, it’s a hard number to give, because the Chinese government keeps the currency of China low, so that it sounds—so that it sounds lower than what they’re earning. And it is a good wage. There’s a lot of—there’s a lot of people who migrate from villages into cities. They work for 10 years. They earn enough money that they can go back to their village and open up a small store or some other type of company. But by American standards, it’s $17 a day to $21 a day. And by American standards, it’s an enormously, enormously low amount of money. It is not a quality of life that we’ve become accustomed to. And it’s not a working condition that Americans would tolerate or that would be legal inside this country.

AMY GOODMAN: The Indypendent reporter Arun Gupta had just had a piece published on AlterNet, says, “Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say [that] legions of vocational and university students, [some] as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long ‘internships’ in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture,” that he puts out, “than the Times does of how Foxconn” works. He says—talks about “‘the Chinese hell factory,’ treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.” Charles?

CHARLES DUHIGG: Yeah, we don’t refer to any place as a “hell factory.” But the point—

AMY GOODMAN: No, no, he was talking about—

CHARLES DUHIGG: But the point that he makes is a fair one. Some of the tactics that are used by Foxconn and other companies throughout China is, if you are late, if you violate one of the small rules, some of the punishment is that you have to copy down quotations from the chairman of Foxconn, you have to write out confessions explaining why you were late and promising never to do it again. A number of the factories have morning military drills, where you have to line up in formation and remain very still or do calisthenics. It is not a good working environment. It is not a working environment that, by American standards, anyone would tolerate.

And the point that you brought up of the internships, this is a real problem. China is this incredibly developing country right now, right? Over the last 10 years, it’s a nation that has literally completely transformed itself. And what is going on is that, as capitalism becomes more of the norm, the abuses of capitalism, that we’ve managed to ameliorate throughout the West and the United States, are very, very much in place in China. And as a result, there are people suffering.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have 30 seconds, but Michael Daisey, a sheet is given out at the end of your play about what people should do. You have performed this hundreds of times, your play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. What do you want to see happen?

MIKE DAISEY: I want Apple to take real responsibility. Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world. They have an incredible supply chain. I think Charles is right about exactly what’s wrong at Apple. I think people are well-meaning. But the people in charge of supplier responsibility, if it ever conflicts in any way with profit for Apple, in any real way, they are not given the resources they need. Apple has $100 billion — that’s with a “b” — in the bank right now. They have the resources to change this overnight.

AMY GOODMAN: Apple surpassed Exxon as the company with the highest profits. For a few days, they had more money than the U.S. government?

MIKE DAISEY: Yes, in the bank right now. Liquid, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you, Michael Daisey. Mike Daisey, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, is his one-man show at the Public Theater in New York. And Charles Duhigg, award-winning staff reporter for the New York Times who helped break the story about the human costs of Apple products for workers in China.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the crusading Spanish judge, Garzón, has been convicted. We’ll talk with Human Rights Watch’s Reed Brody. Stay with us.

from http://www.democracynow.org/2012/2/10/apple_accustomed_to_profits_and_praise

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Excellent Short Video on Global Warming

Amazing Video: 131 Years of Global Warming in 26 Seconds

For a quick animation of how the globe has warmed since Industrial Revolution times, you can now watch a simple video from NASA that collapses the story into less than half a minute.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been fighting global warming for many years on many fronts, from protecting polar bears to stopping offshore oil drilling and calling on cities to push our leaders to act now to help the Clean Air Act reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.

See the impressive force of what we're up against in the 131-years-of-climate-change-in-26-seconds video. Then read about our Climate Law Institute and take action to get your city to pass a resolution telling President Obama: Help us stop climate change before it's too late.

Climate Change is Here Now
NASA, January 19, 2012
NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record
By Steve Cole and Leslie McCarthy
The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

Global temperatures have warmed significantly since 1880, the beginning of what scientists call the "modern record." At this time, the coverage provided by weather stations allowed for essentially global temperature data. As greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, industry and vehicles have increased, temperatures have climbed, most notably since the late 1970s. In this animation of temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average. (Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.
"We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting," said GISS Director James E. Hansen. "So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Niña influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record."

The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.

The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said. The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.

Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased, the amount of energy "trapped" by these gases has led to higher temperatures.

While average global temperature will still fluctuate from year to year, scientists focus on the decadal trend. Nine of the 10 warmest years since 1880 have occurred since the year 2000, as the Earth has experienced sustained higher temperatures than in any decade during the 20th century. As greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, scientists expect the long-term temperature increase to continue as well. (Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, Robert Simmon)
The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, when the GISS global temperature record begins. By 1960, the average concentration had risen to about 315 parts per million. Today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise at an accelerating pace.

The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis.

The resulting temperature record is very close to analyses by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Hansen said he expects record-breaking global average temperature in the next two to three years because solar activity is on the upswing and the next El Niño will increase tropical Pacific temperatures. The warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010, in a virtual tie.

"It's always dangerous to make predictions about El Niño, but it's safe to say we'll see one in the next three years," Hansen said. "It won't take a very strong El Niño to push temperatures above 2010."
This article originally appeared here.


The amount people had to raise to participate in a “policy roundtable” at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney

Issue #96 • February 10, 2012

“Money and Democracy Update” is Public Citizen’s weekly e-newsletter about the intersection of money and politics. It is part of our ongoing campaign to track the results of — and ultimately overturn — the U.S. Supreme Court’s reckless decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows for-profit corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or attack political candidates. We’ll update you regularly with select news stories and blog posts, legislative developments and ways to get involved.

Stunning Statistics of the Week:

Ten thousand dollars: The amount people had to raise to participate in a “policy roundtable” at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney this week
Twenty-five hundred dollars: The amount people at the event were charged for having their photo taken with Romney
One thousand dollars: Price of admission to the reception

Strange but true: Jack Abramoff makes a splash at Public Citizen
Yes, yes, we know, it was very strange. Notorious ex-superlobbyist Jack Abramoff at Public Citizen?! It happened this week, and oh boy, did Abramoff’s appearance make a splash. Read some of the coverage and watch the video.

25,000 people say: Obama, fix the FEC
A petition on the White House website calling for President Barack Obama to nominate new commissioners to the deadlocked Federal Election Commission (FEC) has garnered 25,000 signatures – enough to prompt the administration to respond.

Obama reverses stance on Super PACs
Putting pragmatism over principle, President Barack Obama has reversed his stance against using Super PACs to benefit his race and is now encouraging donors to give to a Super PAC that is backing his re-election campaign. Reaction has been swift and negative. “The president’s engagement in the Super PAC arms race virtually ensures we will witness the nastiest campaign in memory,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said.

But Obama is for a constitutional amendment
President Barack Obama supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court case that said corporations can spend as much as they want to influence elections. This is according to a blog post by Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager.

House GOP leadership weakens STOCK Act
What a sorry – but telling – display. The Republican leadership’s weakening of legislation banning congressional insider trading reflects its commitment to the financial industry interests that do not want anyone to know about the trading activities they engage in – activities that are based on insider knowledge gleaned in the halls of Congress. The House bill, which doesn’t prohibit trading by these political intelligence consultants, must be reconciled with a stronger Senate version, which does.

Take two: DISCLOSE Act is reintroduced
A new DISCLOSE Act has been introduced in Congress. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), this version would require more timely disclosure of donors by Super PACs, extend disclosure requirements to other groups that make political expenditures and currently evade disclosure altogether, and require ads to include the identity of major donors. You may recall that the original DISCLOSE Act was killed by the GOP in 2010.

Dollars and Cents (even more news bites):

… Nothing like winning to boost fundraising. GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum raised one million dollars in the 24 hours after he won contests in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri …

… Montana’s Supreme Court says the state’s ban on corporate spending in elections will stay in force while the challengers’ effort to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court remains in the works …

… Harold Simmons, the Texas billionaire who helped pay for the infamous Swift Boat attack ads, has poured more than eight million dollars in the past six months into groups supporting GOP presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, as well as American Crossroads, a Karl Rove co-founded PAC …

… Voters in the District of Columbia are one step closer to seeing a measure on the November ballot that would ban corporate donations to city candidates …

… As if things weren’t weird enough, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a tongue-in-cheek video that promotes the DISCLOSE Act by taking digs at comedian Stephen Colbert for his Super PAC activity. One of her lines: “I hear he doesn’t even like kittens” …

Visit DemocracyIsForPeople.org to learn more!


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Judge Baltasar Garzón needs to be appointed to the European Supreme Court Now

VERSE for a JUDGE, Spanish Judge Garzón, Disbarred in Trial Seen as Retaliation for Trailblazing Human Rights Work

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”- Isaiah 43:2-3

Baltazar Garzon should be considered for these two European Courts:


Spanish Judge Garzón Disbarred in Trial Seen as Retaliation for Trailblazing Human Rights Work

Spain’s most famous judge, Baltasar Garzón, has been disbarred for 11 years after being found guilty of ordering illegal monitoring. Garzón is known for taking on global human rights cases under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, with actions including ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, indicting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and probing the abuse of U.S. prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Garzón cannot appeal his disbarment, which effectively ends his career as a judge. We speak to Human Rights Watch’s Reed Brody, who observed Garzón’s trial in Madrid. Brody says the case marks “a massive attack on the independence of the judiciary and on a very brave judge.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: Spain’s most famous judge, Baltasar Garzón, known for ordering the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, was himself found guilty yesterday of authorizing illegal recordings between clients and their lawyers in a corruption case involving the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party. Spain’s Supreme Court has banned Garzón from the legal profession for 11 years, effectively ending his career as a judge. The court also said he could not appeal the ruling.

Some Madrid residents expressed disappointment at the outcome of the case.

PATRICIA: [translated] I think Garzón has done the best he can, and what he did, I think, is right. He didn’t do anything wrong. And whether he did or he didn’t, he is the only one to have ever done something for this country. So I think the decision is incorrect.

AMY GOODMAN: In addition to ordering Pinochet’s arrest, Judge Garzón used the doctrine of universal jurisdiction to investigate war crimes and torture across national lines, famously indicting Osama bin Laden and others of al-Qaeda in 2003, and opening an investigation into the potential criminal liability of Bush administration officials for acts of torture at Guantánamo.

Garzón still has two other cases pending against him, including allegedly exceeding his authority by investigating atrocities committed by supporters of the dictator Francisco Franco. The human rights crimes came during Franco’s reign from ’36 to 1975. More than 100,000 opponents of the regime were executed or disappeared. While prosecutors reportedly disagreed with the charges that Garzón had exceeded his authority, Spanish law allows civilians to lodge criminal charges.

Well, to talk more about the ruling against Judge Garzón, we’re joined by Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch in Brussels. He was observing Garzón’s trial in Madrid, is now with us in New York.

Can you just tell us what happened?

REED BRODY: Sure. Well, as you said, there were three cases against Garzón. I mean, this was a concerted effort by his enemies within the conservative Spanish judiciary essentially to get rid of him. And the first case, accusing him of failing to apply Spain’s amnesty law, got such a bad reaction internationally, but other cases were leapfrogged in front of that.

And in this case, he ordered that the alleged ringleaders of a massive corruption scandal—over 120 million euros, $180 million, involving payoffs within the now-ruling Popular Party—he ordered that the defendants be wiretapped, because, allegedly, the lawyers, who were in conversation with them, were laundering the money. And in fact, one of the lawyers was actually indicted for money laundering. He ordered the wiretaps on the recommendation of a prosecutor. When the case was moved to another jurisdiction, the new prosecutor recommended the wiretaps, and the new judge continued the wiretaps. And despite the fact that one of the lawyers was in fact indicted for laundering the proceeds of this scandal, the wiretaps were quashed. That’s OK. What then happened, though, is that he was actually prosecuted by the defendants. And the conservative judiciary accepted the case, and he has now been convicted of having abused his authority by ordering these wiretaps.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, I mean, it almost seems that as long as he was willing to deal with cases internationally, that it was OK by the Spanish judiciary. But as soon as he began to look at the Franco regime, the atrocities of the Franco regime, or begin to zero in on possible corruption within his own government, suddenly they went out to get him.

REED BRODY: Well, he has made a lot of enemies, particularly in the Popular Party. But also, let’s not forget that he had—his actions resulted in the indictment of a Socialist Interior Ministry for supporting death squads in the Basque country. So he had made enemies on both sides of the spectrum. And this was really a concerted effort to cut him down to size, which—a massive attack on the independence of the judiciary and on a very brave judge.

AMY GOODMAN: So what can’t he do right now? And we have less than a minute.

REED BRODY: Well, he can’t serve as a judge in Spain. And this is really—for him, that’s not—it’s not he who will suffer. It’s Spain. It’s all of those of us who look to the Spanish judiciary to take on the tough cases, to investigate Guantánamo, the Salvadoran and Argentinian and Chilean victims who went to the Spanish judiciary because there was a judge there willing to apply the law. And now that judge is being—

AMY GOODMAN: Bush administration officials being investigated for torture at Guantánamo?

REED BRODY: As well. He was the one who opened the investigation into Guantánamo. That investigation remains open, but the fact that the judge who opened the investigation is now being cast aside is a warning that Spain will tolerate only subservient judges.

AMY GOODMAN: We’ll leave it there. Reed Brody, we thank you very much for being with us, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch in Brussels, has been observing the trial of Judge Baltasar Garzón in Spain. Judge Baltasar Garzón has been convicted.


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