Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Morning Fix: The Fight That Wasn't

Alienating Latino/Mexican voters is NOT a good idea for the Republican party after all...
Dra. Valenzuela


Morning Fix: The Fight That Wasn't
By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post (June 30, 2009)

If there was any question of whether Republicans had given up on the idea of turning the nomination of judge Sonia Sotomayor into a major political fight, the events of the past 24 hours have effectively erased those doubts.

The Supreme Court's decision to overturn a ruling by Sotomayor regarding allegations of reverse discrimination by a group of white firefighters in Connecticut seemed like just the sort of thing Republicans would jump on to reinforce the idea that President Obama's nominee was not fit for the bench.

Instead, crickets.

To be sure, people like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) issued statements hitting Sotomayor but neither GOP leader took any real rhetorical risks; McConnell said the decision reinforced his "concerns" about Sotomayor while Cornyn called the ruling a "victory for evenhanded application of the law."

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the party's frontrunner for the 2012 presidential nomination, didn't even see fit to offer a public statement on the Supreme Court decision or its impact on Sotomayor's confirmation.

It was left up to Judicial Watch, a conservative outside group, to use the decision to conclude that "Judge Sotomayor should not be confirmed for the United States Supreme Court."

The simple fact made clear by the (at best) muted criticism of Sotomayor's decision on the firefighters case is that elected Republican officials have decided that the Supreme Court fight is not one worth picking.

"I think the strategy not to rain on a very big Latino parade that could not be stopped anyway was a very good one," said Mike Murphy, a prominent Republican strategist based in California.

The decision to back down -- as reflected by Murphy -- is, in large part, a politically-motivated one. Opposing the first Hispanic to ever be nominated to the bench would almost certainly have the effect of further damaging the Republican brand in the eyes of Latinos who are, in case you have been under a pile of coats for the last few years, the largest minority group in the country.

More broadly, there seems to be little public appetite for a fight over Sotomayor. In polling conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, more than six in ten Americans said the Senate should confirm Sotomayor -- including 64 percent of Independent voters.

Combine the risk of alienating the Hispanic vote, the general sentiment in favor of Sotomayor and the struggles that Republicans have experienced in settling on a message and messengers to carry it and it seems that taking a pass on a full-blown Supreme Court battle was the right choice.

Stuart Stevens, a media consultant who handled Romney's advertising during the 2008 presidential primary, put the GOP calculation bluntly -- and best.

"On Obama's watch, GM has gone bankrupt, unemployment is pushing historic highs, trillions have been wasted and more soldiers are at war today than a year ago," Stevens said. "Don't pick a fight with a tough girl from the Bronx. There are easier fights."

Working Together for Immigration Reform

THURSDAY, JUNE 25TH, 2009 AT 7:45 PM
Working Together for Immigration Reform
Posted by Katherine Brandon

download .mp4 (70.8 MB) | read the transcript

The President and Vice President met with a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders today to discuss one of today's most contentious issues – immigration – and how to go about reforming the broken immigration system. The President stated that the Administration is fully behind comprehensive immigration reform, and that they will be working with House and Senate leaders to have an honest conversation about the issues and come up with practical solutions:

We have members of Congress from both chambers, from parties, who have participated in the meeting and shared a range of ideas. I think the consensus is that despite our inability to get this passed over the last several years, the American people still want to see a solution in which we are tightening up our borders, or cracking down on employers who are using illegal workers in order to drive down wages -- and oftentimes mistreat those workers. And we need a effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here.

While Congressional leaders are working to tackle the complexities of immigration reform, the Administration has already taken steps to improve the system. The FBI has cleared much of the backlog of immigration background checks, the Department of Homeland Security is speeding up citizenship petitions and in conjunction with the Department of Labor, they are working to crack down on employers who are exploiting illegal workers. The President also announced a new collaborative effort that will utilize technology to improve legal immigration:

Today I'm pleased to announce a new collaboration between my Chief Information Officer, my Chief Performance Officer, my Chief Technologies Officer and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to make the agency much more efficient, much more transparent, much more user-friendly than it has been in the past.

In the next 90 days, USCIS will launch a vastly improved Web site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online. And anybody who's dealt with families who are trying to deal with -- navigate the immigration system, this is going to save them huge amounts of time standing in line, waiting around, making phone calls, being put on hold. It's an example of some things that we can do administratively even as we're working through difficult issues surrounding comprehensive immigration.

And the idea is very simple here: We're going to leverage cutting-edge technology to reduce the unnecessary paperwork, backlogs, and the lack of transparency that's caused so many people so much heartache.

(President Barack Obama talks with members of Congress to discuss immigration, Thursday, June 25, 2009,
in the State Dinning Room of the White House. From left; Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, Rep. Luis Guitierrez,
D-Ill., Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., Rep. James Clyburn, D - S.C. the president, Vice President Joe Biden,
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Thoroughly Un-American Institution

A Council on Hemispheric Affairs Press Release
About COHA <http://www.coha.org/about-coha/> Contact COHA

Opened in 1946 at Fort Gulick in the former U.S. Panama Canal Zone, the School of the Americas (SOA) has, over its lifetime, trained more than 64,000 Latin American and Caribbean members of the uniformed armed forces in an extensive program of military operations. Its graduates have included ten different Latin American military officers who would later become some of the most notorious strongmen and dictators in the hemisphere, as well as hundreds of senior and mid-level officers who would later be revealed as gross human rights abusers, serial torturers, drug traffickers and confederates of organized crime.

Questionable practices

Torture has been considered a logical and necessary component in the expansive arsenal of dirty practices which comprise the field of special operations (commando tactics, sophisticated counterinsurgency techniques, military intelligence, covert intelligence activities, psychological warfare, psychological operations or â*œPSYOPSâ*, and other covert procedures), all initially honed by the British in Malaya and by the U.S. in the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, and more recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Likewise, the 1963 CIA â*˜KUBARK' interrogation and torture documents and the early 1980s torture manuals authored by the U.S. Army for use at the SOA both document torture practices which have been central to the school's curricula. These were being taught to thousands of officers from eighteen Latin American countries for several decades. These materials specifically instructed their students on how to coerce prisoners into being cooperative through the use of fear, extortion, kidnapping, the administration of truth serums, beatings, rape, false imprisonment, torture of children in front of their parents and vice versa, beheadings, live burials, public execution and acts of massacre.
For full article click here <http://www.coha.org/2009>
This analysis was prepared by Louis Wolf
Wednesday, June 24, 2009 | Press release 09.179

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org ; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email coha@coha.org.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Third year of fewer illegal immigrants caught

Third year of fewer illegal immigrants caught
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press Writer © 2009 The Associated Press
June 16, 2009, 2:17PM

McALLEN, Texas — The number of Border Patrol apprehensions nationwide dropped for a third consecutive year, falling more than 17 percent to a level not seen since 1973, according to new government data.
The U.S. Border Patrol — charged with catching illegal immigrants near the nation's boundaries — had 724,000 apprehensions in 2008, according to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics. That's down from nearly 1.2 million in 2005.
Ninety-seven percent of those apprehensions were on the southwest border with Mexico and 91 percent of those caught were Mexican.
The report cited the slow U.S. economy and tougher border security as possible factors contributing to the drop.
The number of apprehensions hit its highest level in 1986, when Border Patrol made nearly 1.7 million apprehensions.
But apprehension statistics are a crude measure of immigration since they only capture those who get caught.
Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, said the data appear to follow other reports that showed steep declines in Mexican immigration.
A survey by the Mexican government showed similar back-to-back 20-percent annual drops in the number of its citizens departing for the United States, Passel said. The result is that the foreign-born Mexican population in the United States has essentially stopped growing, he said.
Immigrants come to the United States for many reasons, but for Mexicans the main reason is for jobs "and there aren't any," Passel said.
"It's a flow that is very sensitive to the economic situation in the U.S.," he said.
While enhanced border security may play a role, it is difficult to parse that out because the decline corresponds so closely with the economic situation, he said. The real test will come when the economy bounces back.
The Border Patrol grew to more than 18,000 agents by the end of 2008, more than doubling during the presidency of George W. Bush.
There were 12.7 million Mexican immigrants living in the United States in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. About 55 percent of those were here illegally.
The money many of them sent back to family in Mexico, was a critical source of cash for that country that is drying up with the recession.
Mexico's central bank, which tracks money sent to the country by Mexicans living abroad, announced last month that these "remittances" had dropped by more than 18 percent in the past year, from $2.19 billion in April 2008 to $1.78 billion this April. It was the biggest such decline on record.

Immigration Debate Tied to Rise in Hate Crimes

Immigration Debate Tied to Rise in Hate Crimes

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has pledged to advance legislation that would expand prosecution of bias crimes. (By Manuel Balce Ceneta -- Associated Press)

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
U.S. civil rights leaders said yesterday that an increase in hate crimes committed in recent years against Hispanics and people perceived to be immigrants "correlates closely" to the nation's increasingly contentious debate over immigration.

Hate crimes targeting Hispanic Americans rose 40 percent from 2003 to 2007, the most recent year for which FBI statistics are available, from 426 to 595 incidents, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund issued a report that faulted anti-immigrant rhetoric in the media and mobilization of extremist groups on the Internet. The conference said that some groups advocating for tighter immigration laws have invoked "the dehumanizing, racist stereotypes and bigotry of hate groups."

"Reasonable people will disagree . . . but the tone of discourse over comprehensive immigration reform needs to be changed, needs to be civil and sane," said Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League.

The FBI reported in October that the number of hate crimes dropped in 2007 by about 1 percent, to 7,624. But violence against Latinos and gay people bucked the trend. The number of hate crimes directed at gay men and lesbians increased about 6 percent, the FBI reported.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which was criticized in the LCCREF report, said it was "another salvo against free speech by the pro-amnesty coalition . . . to delegitimize any critic of mass immigration."

WCVI Releases White Paper on Latinos, Blacks, and the Home Mortgage Foreclosure Crisi

For Immediate Release – June 18, 2009

WCVI Releases White Paper on Latinos, Blacks, and the Home Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis

Paper Analyzes Latino, Black Homeownership and Makes Policy Recommendations to Save Homes; Improve Economy Contact: Steven Ochoa, 323-222-2217, sochoa@wcvi.org

Download the Paper Here

LOS ANGELES – Today, the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) released its latest White Paper, focusing on the current Home Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis.

Entitled “The End of the American Dream for Blacks and Latinos: How the Home Mortgage Crisis is Destroying Black and Latino Wealth, Jeopardizing America’s Future Prosperity and How to Fix It,” the research paper examines the current destruction of minority wealth and how if left unaddressed it will impede America's economic recovery. The report also presents a policy proposal to end the crisis while keeping people in their homes and laying the groundwork for sustainable growth in home ownership and the economy again.

“This study proposes a practical solution that will help all affected by this Home Mortgage Crisis,” said WCVI President Antonio Gonzalez. “The current housing predicament is disproportionately destroying the home ownership and the American Dream among Latinos and Blacks, and must be addressed if America's economy is to recover in the near term."

The WCVI White Paper, authored by Dr. Raul Hinojosa, Albert Jacquez, and Dr. Paule Cruz Takash documented how after the largest growth in home ownership in history during over the last 15 years, Blacks and Latinos are suffering their largest loss in wealth (over 200 billion dollars during the last three years) in modern history. This disproportionate loss threatens not only their ability to achieve the American Dream but also will cause a second collapse in the national economy if left unaddressed by President Obama and Congress.

“This study demonstrates how the Black and Latino housing mortgage experience is crucial for understanding both the origins and resolution of the current crisis in a way that establishes a prosperous middle-class based economic recovery,” said Dr. Raul Hinojosa, co-author of the study. “In essence this crisis raises the fundamental policy questions for recreating the United States as a middle class economy in the 21st Century.”

Added co-author Dr. Paule Cruz Takash, “The solutions proposed are focused on creating, expanding and transmitting wealth not only between generations but in the context of a dramatic changing ethnic and racial composition and housing markets in the US over the next decades.”

"This study examines the impact of the current housing crisis on Blacks and Latinos and proposes timely and sensible policies to reverse the historic loss wealth and help facilitate the growth of our next generation of homebuyers," said co-author Albert Jacquez.

Download the Paper Here <http://simplesend.com/simple/t.asp?S=211&ID=27560&NL=4897&N=36441&SI=1289558&URL=http://wcvi.org/data/pub/housingwhitepaper061809.htm>

WCVI is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit policy and research organization. Founded in 1985, WCVI is focused on issues relevant to America's racial and ethnic minority groups. WCVI has offices in San Antonio, Texas and Los Angeles, CA.

William C. Velasquez Institute
National Office
206 Lombard, 1st Floor
San Antonio, TX 78226
(210) 922-3118 California Office
2914 N. Main St., 1st Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90031
(323) 222-2217 Florida Office
2646-A NW 21st Terrace
Miami, FL 33142
(305) 635-6965

Home Broadband Adoption 200

This article from the Pew Internet Project underscores the consumer power of Latinos with new information technologies. Should cause investors and manufacturers of these to take pause....

Angela

Home Broadband Adoption 2009
by John B. Horrigan, Associate Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project
June 17, 2009


Home broadband adoption stood at 63% of adult Americans as of April 2009, up from 55% in May 2008.

The latest findings of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project mark a departure from the stagnation in home high-speed adoption rates that had prevailed from December 2007 through December 2008. During that period, Pew Internet Project surveys found that home broadband penetration remained in a narrow range between 54% and 57%.

The greatest growth in broadband adoption in the past year has taken place among population subgroups which have below average usage rates. Among them:

Senior citizens: Broadband usage among adults ages 65 or older grew from 19% in May 2008 to 30% in April 2009.
Low-income Americans: Two groups of low-income Americans saw strong broadband growth from 2008 to 2009: First, respondents living in households whose annual household income is $20,000 or less saw broadband adoption grow from 25% in 2008 to 35% in 2009. Second, respondents living in households whose annual incomes are between $20,000 and $30,000 annually experienced a growth in broadband penetration from 42% to 53%.Overall, respondents reporting that they live in homes with annual household incomes below $30,000 experienced a 34% growth in home broadband adoption from 2008 to 2009.
High-school graduates: Among adults whose highest level of educational attainment is a high school degree, broadband adoption grew from 40% in 2008 to 52% in 2009.
Older baby boomers: Among adults ages 50-64, broadband usage increased from 50% in 2008 to 61% in 2009.
Rural Americans: Adults living in rural America had home high-speed usage grow from 38% in 2008 to 46% in 2009.
Population subgroups that have above-average usage rates saw more modest increases during this time period.

Upper-income Americans: Adults who reported annual household incomes over $75,000 had broadband adoption rate change from 84% in 2008 to 85% in 2009.
College graduates: Adults with a college degree (or more) saw their home high-speed usage grow from 79% in 2008 to 83% in 2009.
Notably, African Americans experienced their second consecutive year of broadband adoption growth that was below average.

In 2009, 46% of African Americans had broadband at home.
This compares with 43% in 2008.
In 2007, 40% of African Americans had broadband at home.


The Pew Internet Project's April 2009 survey interviewed 2,253 Americans, with 561 respondents interviewed on their cell phones.

Broadband adoption appears to have been largely immune to the effects of the current economic recession. In the April survey, more than twice as many respondents said they had cut back or cancelled a cell phone plan or cable TV service than said the same about their internet service.

9% of internet users (7% of all adults) say that in the past 12 months they have cancelled or cut back online service.
22% of adults say they have cancelled or cut back cable TV service in the past 12 months.
22% of cell phone users (19% of all adults) report that in the past 12 months they have cancelled or cut back cell phone service.
Given that the Pew Internet Project's April 2009 survey shows that 85% of adults have cell phone service, up from 77% at the end of 2007 (in a sample that also included respondents interviewed on cell phones), it seems likely that cell phone users were economizing on service plans rather than foregoing service altogether.

Prices for home broadband service increased from 2008 to 2009. Home high-speed users who reported more choices of providers paid less than others.

The average monthly bill for broadband service in April 2009 was $39, an increase from $34.50 in May 2008.
Broadband users who say they have just one provider where they live (21% of home high-speed users) report an average monthly bill of $44.70.
Among broadband users with more than one provider in their area (69% of home high-speed users), the average monthly broadband bill is $38.30.
A subset of home broadband users who say four or more broadband service providers serve their neighborhood (17% of all home high-speed users) reported an average monthly bill of $32.10.


A growing share of broadband subscribers pay for premium service that gives them faster speeds. They are also paying more for the extra speed than they did a year ago.

In 2009, 34% of home broadband users said they subscribed to a service that gave them faster access speeds, an increase from 29% in 2008.
About the same share of home broadband users subscribed to basic service in 2009 (53%) as in 2008 (54%).
Subscribers to premium service paid an average of $44.60 per month for broadband in 2009, up from $38.10 in 2008.
For basic service, broadband users reported a monthly bill of $37.10 in 2009, up from $32.80 in 2008.
A majority of home broadband users see a home high-speed connection as "very important" to at least one dimension of their lives and community, such as communicating with health care providers and government officials, or gathering and sharing information about the community.

68% of home broadband users said such a connection is "very important" (31%) or "somewhat important (37%) for finding out what is going on in their community.
65% of home broadband users said such a connection is "very important" (34%) or "somewhat important (31%) for communicating with health care or medical providers.
62% of home broadband users said such a connection is "very important" (26%) or "somewhat important (36%) for contributing to economic growth in their community.
58% of home broadband users said such a connection is "very important" (23%) or "somewhat important (35%) for sharing their views with others about key issues.
57% of home broadband users said such a connection is "very important" (26%) or "somewhat important (31%) for finding out what is going on in their community.
Overall, 55% of broadband users view a high-speed link at home as "very important" with respect to at least one of these topics they were asked about. Some 84% of home broadband users see their fast connection as "somewhat important" or "very important" in at least one of the five realms listed above.

When asked why they do not have the internet or broadband at home, non-users (either dialup subscribers or non-internet users) cite factors related to the internet's relevance, availability, usability and price. A third of dial-up users cite price as a barrier, with the remaining two-thirds citing other factors.

Only 7% of Americans are dial-up internet users at home, a figure that is half the level it had been two years ago. Here's what they say when asked what it would take for them to switch to a broadband connection at home.

32% said the price would have to fall.
20% said nothing would get them to change.
17% said it would have to become available where they live.
16% responded "don't know."
13% cited some other reason.
Non-internet users, 21% of adults, are three times the size of dial-up users and cite a wider range of reasons as to why they don't have internet access:

22% say they are not interested in getting online (a decrease from 33% who said this at the end of 2007).
16% say they can't get access where they live.
13% cited some other reason.
10% said it was too expensive.
7% said they believe the internet is difficult to use.
6% say they don't need or want it.
6% responded "don't know" or refused to respond.
5% said they don't have a computer.
4% said they were busy or have no time for the internet.
4% said they think the internet is a waste of time.
Consolidating the reasons mentioned across the two classes of non-broadband users into four categories yields the following table. It shows that half of non-internet or dial-up users cite a reason that suggests they question the relevance of connecting to the internet - either at all or with high-speed at home.

Summary of reasons dial-up and non-internet users cite for not having broadband at home


% of dial-up + non-online users
% of all adults
Relevance
(not interested in getting online + nothing could get me to switch + too busy + other unspecified reasons)
50%
13%
Price
(price must fall + too expensive + no computer)
19%
5%
Availability

17%
4%
Usability
(difficult + waste of time + too old + physically unable)
13%
3%
Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project April 2009 Survey.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

THE ABDUCTION OF MODERNITY

(Editor’s Note: This is a shortened text of Part 1 of the author’s 8-part series of articles under the general title of “THE ABDUCTION OF MODERNITY”. More passages from this series are posted on http://www.xinfajia.net/index/eindex.page <http://www.xinfajia.net/english/> )

The United States defines its global "war on terrorism" as a defensive effort to protect its way of life, beyond attacks from enemies with alien cultural and religious motives, to attacks from those who reject modernity itself. This definition is derived from the views of historian Bernard Lewis, a scholar of Islamic culture at Princeton University, who traces Islamic opposition to the West beyond hostility to specific interests or actions or policies or even countries, to rejection of Western civilization for what it is. To Lewis, Western civilization stands for modernity. This anti-modernity attitude, he warns, is what lends support to the ready use of terror by Islamic fundamentalists.

Samuel Huntington in his The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order argues that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War will bring neither peace nor worldwide acceptance of liberal democracy. Huntington rejects Francis Fukuyama's prematurely optimistic "end of history" theme that the collapse of communism means Western civilization is destined to spread as people elsewhere seek the benefits of technology, wealth, and personal freedom it offers. Instead, because technology has been reserved for exploitation, wealth obscenely maldistributed, and freedom selectively denied to the powerless, narrow ideological conflict will transform into conflicts among people with different religions, values, ethnicities, and historical memories. These cultural factors define civilizations. Nations will increasingly base alliances on common civilization rather than common ideology; and wars will tend to occur along the fault lines between major civilizations.

Huntington points out that embracing materialist science, industrial production, technical education, rootless urbanization, and capitalistic trade does not mean the rest of the world will embrace the culture of the West. On the contrary, he argues that economic growth is likely to increase the aspiration for cultural sovereignty, breeding a new commitment to the values, customs, traditions, and religions of native cultures. The struggle is not capitalism against communism, but backward civilization against modern civilization.

The fault in both these views is the assumption that modernity is an exclusive characteristic of the West. On the surface, such views appear self-evident, since science and technology have been the enabling factors behind Western ascendance and dominance. But the "modern world" can be viewed as a brief aberration on the long path of human destiny, a brief period of a few centuries when narcissistic Western thinkers mistake technological development as moral progress in human civilization. Many barbaric notions, racism being the most obvious, appear under the label of modernity, rationalized by a barbaric doctrine of pseudo-science. The West takes advantage of the overwhelming power it has derived from its barbaric values to set itself up as a superior civilization. The West views its technical prowess as a predatory license for intolerance of the values and traditions of other advanced cultures.

Chinese civilization has weathered successive occupation by barbaric invaders, all of whom as rulers saw fit to adopt Chinese civilization for their own benefit and contributed to the further development of the culture they had invaded and subsequently adopted. The history of the West's interaction with the rest of the world has been culturally evangelistic, to suppress and encroach on unfamiliar cultures Westerners arbitrarily deem inferior, often based on self-satisfied ignorance. Until confronted by Western imperialism, China might have faced military conquests, but Chinese civilization had never been under attack. Barbaric invaders came to gain access to Chinese culture, not to destroy it. The West is unique in its destructive ethnocentricity. Under the domination of the West, Chinese or other non-Western intellectuals who do not speak or read Western languages are considered illiterate and ignorant, while Western "scholars", including the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who do not speak or read Chinese or other non-Western languages have written erudite books on Chinese and other non-Western culture.

Gunpowder was invented around the 4th century in China by Taoist alchemist Ko Hong while seeking an elixir for immortality. It is the height of Taoist irony that the search for an elixir for immortality only yields a substance that ends life abruptly. Gunpowder would not be used in warfare in China until the 10th century, first in incendiary rockets called feihuo (flying fire), forerunner of today's intercontinental ballistic missiles. Explosive grenades would first be employed by armies of the Song Dynasty in 1161 against Jurchens (Nuzhen), ancestors of modern-day Manchurians.

In Chinese dynastic culture, the use of firearms in war was considered cowardly and therefore not exploited by honorable warriors of self-respect. Firearms would not develop in dynastic China, not because of the absence of know-how, but because their use had been culturally circumscribed as not being appropriate for true warriors.

In the history of human progress, willful rejection of many technological inventions is traceable to cultural preference. This is the basis for concluding that the technological militarism of the West is of barbaric roots and that a civilization built on military power remains barbaric, the reverse of modernity, notwithstanding the guise of technology.

The oldest picture in the world of a gun and a grenade is on a painted silk banner found at Dunhuang, dating to the mid-10th century, that came to be in the possession of Musee Guimet in Paris in modern times. The museum on Place d'Iena was founded by French industrialist Emile Guimet, a 19th-century Asian-art collector from Lyon. On the silk banner, demons of Mara the Temptress, an evil goddess, are shown trying to harm the meditating Buddha and to distract him from his pursuit of enlightenment, with a proto-gun in the form of a fire lance and a proto-grenade in the form of a palm-size fire-bomb. The fact that these weapons are shown to be used only by evil demons illustrates the distasteful attitude of the ancient Chinese toward firearms.

Crossbows, known in Chinese as nu, have a shorter range than double-curved longbows and are slower in firing. But they became devastatingly accurate after a grid sight to guide their aim was invented 23 centuries ago by Prince Liu Chong of the imperial house of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

Crossbows were first used 28 centuries ago in the Spring and Autumn Period (Chunqiu 770-481 BC) when their employment in the hands of the infantry neutralized the traditional superiority of war chariots. The use of crossbows thus changed the rules of warfare and the balance of power in the political landscape of ancient China, favoring those states with large sheren (commoner) infantry forces over those with powerful chariot-owning militant guizu (aristocrats).

The earliest unification of China by the Legalist Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), whose unifying ruler was an antagonist of fragmented aristocratic feudalism, was not independent of the geopolitical impact of crossbow technology.

History records that in 209 BC, the Second Emperor (Er Shi, reigned 209-207 BC) of the Qin Dynasty, son of the unifying Qin Origin Emperor (Qin Shihuangdi, reigned 246-210 BC), who fought 26 years of continuous war to unify all under the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), which subsequently lasted only 14 years before collapsing, kept a crossbow regiment of 50,000 archers.

Han Dynasty historian Sima Qian, author of the classic Records of the Historian (Shi Ji), wrote in 108 BC that a member of the Han royalty, the prince of Liang Xiao (Liang Xiao Wang), was in charge of an arsenal with several hundred thousand crossbows in 157 BC.

Two working crossbows from China, dating from the 11th century AD, one capable of repeat firing, came to be in the modern-day collection of the Simon Archery Foundation in Manchester Museum at the University of Manchester, England.

Most triggers and sights used in crossbows in China were manufactured by master craftsmen who signed their metal products with inscribed marks and dates. Shen Gua (1031-94), renowned Bei Song Dynasty (Northern Song 960-1127) scientist cum historian on Chinese science and technology, referred to his frustration over his inability to date accurately an 11th-century excavation, upon finding on a crossbow mechanism the inscription "stock by Yu Shih and bow by Chang Rou", but with no accompanying dates.

Even in 10th century BC, production of crossbows in China had already involved a sophisticated system of separation of manufacturing of parts and mass assembly of final products.

Crossbows were last used in war in China by the Qing Dynasty army in 1900, with tragic inadequacy, against the invading armies of eight allied European powers with more deadly firearms.

The ancient Greeks employed crossbows successfully at Syracuse in 397 BC. After the fall of the Roman Empire, crossbows reappeared in Europe only after the 10th century. They were used at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 by William the Conqueror.

The Second Lateran Council of 1139 condemned crossbows, together with usury, simony, clerical marriage and concubinage. Their use was banned under the anathema of the Church, except for use against infidels. The ban on crossbows was a position of moral righteousness yet to be taken by Christendom in modern times on the use of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

Richard, Coeur de Lion (1157-1199), mostly absentee king of England (1189-99) and less-than-successful hero of the Crusades, took many crossbows on his Third Crusade in 1190. Hernando Cortes (1485-1547), Spanish conquistador, used the crossbow as one of his main weapons in subjugating Mexico in the 16th century.

In medieval warfare, the rules of European chivalry required, as those of dynastic Chinese martial arts did, that honorable combat be personal and bodily. Arrows were considered cowardly by medieval Europeans, as firearms were by dynastic Chinese up to the 19th century. The use of bows and arrows was stooped to only by those outside of the socio-military establishment, the likes of outlawed English yeomen of the 12th century, such as Robin Hood and his chief archer, Little John, legendary folk heroes of English ballads. Another famous 13th-century archer was the legendary Swiss patriot William Tell, whose story would be made popular by Friedrich von Schiller's drama and later by Gioacchino Antonio Rossini's popular opera.

European knights, when prepared to suffer calculated losses, were able to survive slow-firing enemy crossbows with limited range. In sufficient numbers, the horsemen were able to decimate in full gallop an unprotected line of much-despised enemy crossbow-men. However, they were not able to overcome fast-firing longbows with long range.

Two millennia after the invention of crossbows in China, the Battle of Crecy of the Hundred Years' War, which took place on August 26, 1346, first demonstrated the effectiveness of Edward III's English archers, composed mostly of newly recruited, socially shunned yeomen with longbows, against the respectable armored French knights of Philip VI.

Similarly, the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415, decisively confirmed the obsolescence of hitherto invincible French aristocratic knights on horseback. In opposition, English yeomen, commoner foot-soldiers, members of a class unappreciated by their social betters in their home society, applied with glory in war a despised killing tool designed for illegal poaching in peace. Armed with a fresh military application of ignoble longbow technology, the socially inferior English yeomen in the form of simple unarmored infantry-archers, proved their battlefield supremacy to the socially superior French aristocrats in the form of powerfully armored mounted knights.

The Battle of Agincourt marked the end of the age of chivalry and announced the obsolescence of its stylized methods of warfare. It also heralded the beginning of a period in which the sovereign would look for military support from the gentry of his realm rather than traditionally from the aristocracy. This gave rise to the resulting political implication that henceforth war would have to be fought for national purpose or religious conviction rather than for settling private feuds among royalties.

In William Shakespeare's Henry V, the central scene of which features the Battle of Agincourt, the most glorious in English history, King Henry addresses his yeomen soldiers in a famous nationalistic exultation:

"Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot;
Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!'"

After the battle scene, Shakespeare (1564-1616) has King Henry recount the French dead:

"The names of those their nobles that lie dead:
Charles Delabreth, High Constable of France;
The Master of the Cross-bows, Lord Rambures ..."

In ancient Chinese warfare, the code of honorable martial conduct required that combat be personal, bodily and frontal. Combatants were organized according to rank, as per all other social activities in a class-conscious and rigidly hierarchical society. Jiangjun (generals) were pitted against jiangjun, captains against captains and foot soldiers against foot soldiers. Social segregation was reflected in the proverb: "Earthenware does not deserve collision with porcelain."

Expertise in corporeal martial skill was so highly prized that jiangjun were frequently expected to engage personally in one-on-one combat with their opposing counterparts. Battles were sometimes won or lost depending on the outcome of high-ranking personal duels under the watchful eyes of troops on each side. By Tang time in the 7th century, however, the cult of martial chivalry in which individual valor determined the outcome of battles already had become only a legend of the past. Firepower was still considered cowardly. And the use of firearms was not acceptable to proud warriors as respectable members of the social elite. Until influenced in modern times by popular Hollywood films on the American Wild West, Chinese children playing war would prefer swordfights to gunfights.

Gunpowder remained unknown in the West until the late 10th century. However, Europeans abandoned outmoded rules of chivalry after the Middle Ages and enthusiastically incorporated firearms and artillery into the lexicon of their military arts after the late 15th century. In contrast, thanks to the Confucian aversion to technological progress, Chinese military planners did not modernize their martial code, basing foreign policy on the principle of civilized benevolence. They continued to suppress development of firearms as immoral and dishonorable up to the 19th century, much to China's misfortune.

As a result, European armies arrived in China in the 19th century with superior firearms. They consistently and repeatedly scored decisive victories with their small but better-armed expeditionary forces over the numerically superior yet technologically backward, sword-wielding Chinese army of the decrepit Qing Dynasty (1636-1911).

China's most influential revolutionary, Mao Zedong, proclaimed in modern times his famous dictum: "Political power comes from the barrel of a gun." He was in fact condemning the obsolete values of Confucianism (ru jia) as much as stating a truism in barbaric modern realpolitik.

Confucian ethics notwithstanding, morality and honor failed to save China from Western imperialism, because morality and honor require observation from both opponents. It was not a clash of civilizations, but a clash between civilization and barbarism. Militarism is a race toward barbarism camouflaged by technology as modernity.

The Boxers Uprising of 1900, the Chinese name for which is Yihetuan (Righteous Harmony Brigade), was an extremist xenophobic movement. It was encouraged as a chauvinistic instrument for domestic politics by the decrepit court of the Qing Dynasty, dominated by the self-indulging, reactionary Dowager Empress (Cixi Taihou, 1838-1908). The Boxer Uprising was used by the Dowager Empress as a populist counterweight to abort the budding "100 Days" elitist reform movement of 1898, led by conservative reformist Kang Youwei (1858-1927) around the young monarch, the weak Emperor Guangxu (reigned 1875-1908), belatedly and defensively advocating modernization for China.

The members of Yihetuan, in a burst of chauvinistic frenzy, rejected the use of modern and therefore foreign firearms in favor of traditional broadswords. They relied on protection against enemy bullets from Taoist amulets, their faith in which would remain unshaken in the face of undeniable empirical evidence provided by hundreds of thousands of falling comrades shot by Western gunfire. The term Boxer would be coined by bewildered Europeans whose modern pragmatism would fill them with a superficial superiority complex, justified on narrow grounds, over an ancient culture that stubbornly clung to the irrational power of faith, in defiance of reason.

Historians often trace the source of national predicaments to particular decisions made by leaders based on personal character, rather than to structural conditions of institutions. This convenient emphasis on personal political errors at the expense of deterministic institutional structure tends to nurture speculations that with wiser decisions, a socio-economic-political order trapped inside an obsolete institutional system would not necessarily be doomed to collapse under the strain of its own contradictions. Such speculations are hard to verify, since it can be argued that bad political decisions by faulty leaders are not independent of a nation's institutional defects. The penchant of the sole remaining superpower to resort to overwhelming force against those not willing to bend to its will may well be an institutional march from modernity back toward barbarism.

Ironically, the Boxers Uprising so discredited the public image of the stubbornly reactionary Qing court that, within a decade after its outbreak, the democratic revolution of Dr Sun Yat-sen succeeded in 1911 in overthrowing the three-century-old Qing Dynasty, despite the effective reactionary suppression of progressive monarchist reform efforts in the dynasty's last phase, or perhaps because of it. Extremist reactionaries, in their eagerness to be gravediggers for progressive reformers, usually become instead unwitting midwives for revolutionary radicals. The Taoist concept of the curative potential of even deadly poison was again demonstrated by the pathetic phenomenon of the Boxers Uprising.

Thus a case can be made that extreme fundamentalist opposition to the West may be the midwife for modernization of Islamic civilization. The capitalistic West nurtured and used Islamic fundamentalism as an antidote against communism in the oil regions of the Middle East during the Cold War, the same way it had nurtured and used fascism during the Great Depression. The antidote proves to be more lethal to the capitalistic West.

Western military prowess, with its arsenal of smart bombs and weapons of mass destruction ready for deployment to impose its will on others, is not a march toward modernity, but a retreat toward barbarism. A civilization built on militarization of the peace remains a barbaric civilization. What Western militarism has done is to abduct modernity as synonymous with Western civilization, depriving human civilization of an evolving process of cultural diversity. The effect of this abduction of modernity had been profound and comprehensive.

The West is not the only guilty party in history, only the most recent. Chinese civilization during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) took a great step forward toward forging a unified nation and culture, but in the process lost much of the richness of its ancient, local traditions and rendered many details of its fragmented past incomprehensible to posterity. Universality and standardization, ingredients of progress, are mortal enemies of particularity and variety, components of tradition. Human civilization deserves a richer vision of modernity than that offered by the West. Until modernization is divorced from Westernization, non-Western civilizations will continue to resist modernization.

Nevertheless, as the first non-Western region to become modernized, the cultural implications of the rise of "Confucian" East Asia are far-reaching. The modern West as informed by the Enlightenment mentality provided the initial impetus for worldwide social transformation. The historical reasons that prompted the modernizing process in Western Europe and North America are not necessarily structural components of modernity. Surely, Enlightenment values such as instrumental rationality, liberty, rights consciousness, due process of law, privacy and individualism are all universalizable modern values. However, as the Confucian example suggests, "Asian values" such as sympathy, distributive justice, duty-consciousness, ritual, public-spiritedness and group orientation are also universalizable modern values. Just as the former ought to be incorporated into East Asian modernity, the latter may turn out to be a critical and timely reference for the American way of life.


Henry C K Liu is chairman of the New York-based Liu Investment Group.

(Copyright 2003 Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.)


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ENCUESTA SOBRE TENDENCIAS MIGRATORIAS

México, D. F. a 12 de junio de 2009
Número:823

ENCUESTA SOBRE TENDENCIAS MIGRATORIAS


El Migration Policy Institute (MPI) presentó el estudio “Current Migration trends from Mexico? What are the impacts of the Economic Crisis and U.S. Enforcement Strategy”, elaborado por el Centro de Estudios Comparados sobre Migración de la Universidad de California en San Diego (CCIS). El evento contó con la participación de Wayne Cornelius, Director del CCIS y de Doris Meissner, Investigadora Residente en el MPI.

Desde 2005, dio inicio un programa de investigación de campo basado en 4,012 entrevistas en los estados de California y Oklahoma en Estados Unidos y en las poblaciones mexicanas de Tlacuitalpa, Jalisco; San Miguel Tlacotepec, Oaxaca y Tunkás, Yucatán.

Entre los resultados obtenidos de la situación económica tanto de población residente como originaria de Tunkás, Yucatán destaca lo siguiente:

Más de la mitad de los encuestados manifestó una reducción en el número de horas trabajadas.
Para 9 de cada 10 ha sido más difícil encontrar un empleo este año en comparación con el anterior.
A los indocumentados les ha tomado casi 35 días encontrar su último empleo, en comparación con los 20 días de la población documentada.
El 48% ha enviado menos recursos a sus familiares, aproximadamente $140.00 dólares mensuales.
La mayoría de quienes han regresado a México lo ha hecho por motivos de reunificación familiar, únicamente el 3% lo ha hecho por pérdida del empleo.


La encuesta arroja una caída importante en el interés por emigrar: pasó de un 34% de la población económicamente activa en 2006 a sólo el 8% en 2009. 87% de los encuestados consideró que es muy peligroso cruzar la frontera, 44% manifestó conocer a alguien que había fallecido en su intento por cruzar y 67% reconoció que es muy difícil evadir a la Patrulla Fronteriza aunque quienes insisten en ingresar admiten que lo consiguen incluso después de uno o más arrestos.

Respecto al clima de temor creado por las medidas de control, los encuestados en E. U. manifestaron que manejar un coche, ir al hospital e ir a trabajar son las actividades cotidianas que más preocupación generan entre los indocumentados. A la misma pregunta, los encuestados en México respondieron que caminar en público, ir a trabajar e ir al hospital son las principales causas de temor.

Entre las principales conclusiones el estudio señala que:

La principal causa de la disminución en la migración procedente de México es que los migrantes en potencia no están seguros de conseguir empleo a su llegada a Estados Unidos.
Los migrantes están más preocupados por no encontrar un empleo que por evadir a la Patrulla Fronteriza.

Las estrictas medidas de control fronterizo tienen un efecto disuasivo a través de su impacto en el aumento de los costos de ser traficado.

Las condiciones actuales de la economía estadounidense han pospuesto la intención de migrar. La recuperación probablemente supondrá un rápido aumento de la migración indocumentada.
No se ha presentado un retorno masivo de migrantes mexicanos resultado de la crisis económica o de la aplicación de la ley migratoria en el interior de EU.

Al percibir los migrantes menores salarios por la reducción de sus jornadas, sus familiares en México cuentan con menos oportunidades para migrar. No obstante lo anterior, la recesión en México y la reducción de remesas, son factores que intensifican los “factores de empuje” de la migración.

Lazos es un servicio informativo del IME, se distribuye de lunes a viernes, y contiene información sobre la población de origen mexicano y latino en EE.UU. y Canadá

Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior
Plaza Juárez #20, Col. Centro
Deleg. Cuauhtémoc C.P. 06010
México, D.F.
Contacto
Vicente Neria Sánchez
vneria@sre.gob.mx

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shapleigh calls on Dewhurst to set up a new South Texas Border Initiative

This is much needed indeed. -Angela

Shapleigh calls on Dewhurst to set up a new South Texas Border Initiative
10 June 2009
Steve Taylor

State Senator Eliot Shapleigh
McALLEN, June10 - State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh has asked Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to prepare for a new South Texas Border Initiative in order to boost access to higher education along the border.
“Given that Texas is minority-majority today and will be majority-Hispanic by 2020, I am asking you to set the stage for a second STBI in order to reverse decades of institutionalized and systematic discrimination against our Borderlands universities,” Shapleigh wrote, in a May 18 letter to Dewhurst.
The original STBI was mounted in the 1989 by the 71st Legislature and resulted in a $460 million aid package for the nine four-year colleges located on the Texas-Mexico border.
It came about following a lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund that claimed the state of Texas had discriminated against Hispanic students by not adequately funding higher education institutions along the border.
In his letter, Shapleigh points out the huge disparity in the number of doctoral and professional programs at Borderlands universities as compared to Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Texas Tech has 60 doctoral and professional programs, Shapleigh wrote, compared to one at the University of Texas at Brownsville, three at the University of Texas-Pan American, 19 at the University of Texas at El Paso, five at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and one at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. Shapleigh also listed the 21 doctoral and professional programs at the University of Texas at San Antonio to strengthen his argument, though most border leaders do not consider San Antonio a border city.
Dr. Blandina “Bambi” Cárdenas referenced the lack of doctoral programs along the border in a hard hitting speech to the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative reception in Laredo on Monday evening.
In what appeared to be a call to arms to border business, academic and political leaders to strongly challenge the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Legislature, the former UTPA president said it was “unsatisfactory and unacceptable” that the border region has just a handful of doctoral programs. She said the border region would likely have to “force” the issue.
“If you draw a line from, let’s say, Marfa, around San Antonio and south to Corpus Christi, we have less than a handful of doctoral programs in that region. Less than a handful,” Cárdenas said.
“I would suggest that we have less than ten doctoral programs in all of those institutions put together. We cannot support and create a 21st century economic development effort if we are lacking those doctoral programs.”
Shapleigh’s letter was sent Dewhurst during the 81st Legislature and came about as a result of a fierce Senate debate over the criteria Texas should use in establishing more Tier One universities. Tier One is another name for a flagship university and confers the title of a national research center. Tens of millions of research dollars flow to such universities.
Under legislation passed this session, seven Texas universities are in the running to receive money from a new fund designed to help higher education institutions achieve Tier One status - UTEP, UTSA, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, and Texas Tech University. Texas voters must approve the establishment of the fund in a constitutional amendment in November.
Shapleigh said he agreed with a statewide consensus that something must be done to make Texas’ universities more competitive on a national and global scale.
However, Shapleigh strongly disagreed with the criteria being set in legislation authored by Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock. Shapleigh said Duncan’s bill – SB 1560 – would effectively result in the “coronation” of the University of Houston and Texas Tech as Tier One universities.
“With the University of California (UC) System now birthing an eighth public national research institution at UC-Merced, we can learn many lessons on how to develop and fund excellence. One thing we should not continue is a historic under-funding of border universities, the ramifications of which are still with us today,” Shapleigh wrote.
In his letter, Shapleigh pointed out that he offered two amendments to Duncan’s bill in an attempt to “level the playing field” for all seven emerging universities.
Duncan’s criteria stated that an institution must have awarded 200 PhDs during each of the last two academic years. Shapleigh’s amendment would have reduced this to 100 PhDs and allowed a school to qualify had they shown a 20 percent growth in the number of PhDs awarded over the past three fiscal years.
Shapleigh said this would have helped UTEP and UTSA. “The residual effect of historic discrimination is that the state’s majority-Hispanic institutions have dramatically low number of PhD programs,” Shapleigh wrote. The amendment was defeated on a vote of 20 to 11.
Shapleigh offered another amendment that he said would have reflected what Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes stated at a March 25 higher education committee hearing on Tier One legislation. Paredes pointed out the importance of demographic and economic considerations, including population trends and the economic and business infrastructure of a locality when considering a Tier One application.
“Our amendment would have allowed a school to meet an additional criteria provided that the institution is located in a population center with a local and regional economic infrastructure capable of facilitating the long-term success of a national research institution,” Shapleigh wrote. “El Paso, San Antonio, and the Valley would have greatly benefited from this amendment, as all have dynamic economies capable of sustaining growth and working closely with the local universities.”
Shapleigh said that, “unfortunately, in deference to Senator Duncan,” the amendment was voted down 19 to 12. Duncan’s district, like the Panhandle generally, is shrinking population-wise, when compared to the fast growing border region.
“I point these amendments out because their defeat are representative of the larger problem,” Shapleigh wrote to Dewhurst. “The historic under-funding of Border universities that has resulted in them playing catch up to the rest of the state.”
Shapleigh added that all the current talk of additional Tier One universities in Texas is “a Potemkin dream without funding.” He said that at best, even with the funding in the Tier One bills moving through the Legislature, Texas could be decades away from new Tier Ones.
Shapleigh pointed to Coordinating Board statistics which show that Texas lags far behind other states in university funding. He said even the Governor’s business supporters, namely the Select Commission on Higher Education and Global Competitiveness, agrees. That group’s report stated:
“Texas is not globally competitive. The state faces a downward spiral in both quality of life and economic competitiveness if it fails to educate more of its growing population (both young and adults) to higher levels of attainment, knowledge and skills. The rate at which educational capital is currently being developed is woefully inadequate. Texas also needs an innovation-based economy in all the state’s regions that can fully employ a more capable workforce. It must generate more external research funding, and commercialize ideas and intellectual property at a volume substantially greater than currently taking place.”
The point about assisting all the state’s regions was also made recently by Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. Patridge told the Guardian he would be voting against the constitutional amendment on Tier One universities in the November election in protest at the “willful and negligent abuse” handed out to Rio Grande Valley universities.
Shapleigh ended his letter by reminding Dewhurst that China and India have learned that exporting valuable capital to the U.S. is an unsustainable model. “Soon we will understand what competition from those countries will represent in innovation, ideas, and prosperity, and what failed leadership has cost our state.”

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