Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nov. 29 is International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

I stole today's post wholesale from I received this link from Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian-American activist for rights for the Palestinian people. He opened my eyes to a world that I do not hear about in the U.S. press. I know this subject is controversial, and this pop quiz does not pull any punches. If you're not ready for a boom-boom-boom, move along and don't read this one:
Middle East Pop Quiz by Charley Reese

It's time for another pop quiz on America's favorite region of the world – the Middle East. Let's get started with the subject of nuclear weapons.

Which country in the Middle East actually possesses nuclear weapons?


Which country in the Middle East refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?


Which country in the Middle East refuses to allow international inspections of its nuclear facilities?


Which countries in the Middle East have called for the region to be a nuclear-free zone?

The Arab countries and Iran.

Which country in the Middle East occupies land belonging to other people?

Israel, which occupies a piece of Lebanon, a larger piece of Syria, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Which country in the Middle East has for 60 years refused to allow refugees to return to their homes and refused to consider compensation to them for their lost property?


Which country has roads on which citizens who are Arab may not drive and housing developments where Arabs may not live?


Which country in the region has violated more United Nations resolutions than any other?

Israel. The United States has on more than one occasion gone to war ostensibly to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions, but when it comes to resolutions directed against Israel, the U.S. is like the amoral monkey that sees, hears and says nothing. That raises the question of who's the dog and who's the tail?

Which country in the region has in the past been led by men who at one time were terrorists with a price on their heads?

Israel. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir once led the Stern Gang and ordered, among other things, the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish diplomat working for the United Nations. Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin led the Irgun, a terrorist gang that among other things blew up one wing of the King David Hotel, killing nearly 100 people.

Which country in the Middle East openly employs assassination against its political enemies?

Israel. There have been assassinations carried out by some of the Arab governments, but they usually don't own up to them. Israel has created a euphemism that the suck-up American press has readily adopted: "targeted killings." A British journalist told me once, "The Palestinians have a talent for picking bad leaders, and the Israelis have a talent for murdering their good ones."

What are the top five countries from which we import oil?

Here they are in order of volume: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela. The next time you hear some blowhard politician ranting about how the Arabs control our oil imports, remind him or her of the facts. By far, a majority of oil imports come from non-Arab countries.

Which country in the region receives an annual gift of $3 billion or more from Congress?


Which foreign-aid recipient is the only one allowed to receive its aid in a lump sum and which routinely invests part of it in U.S. Treasuries so that taxpayers pay them interest on the taxpayers' gift?


Which country in the Middle East has the most powerful lobby in the U.S.?


Which country in the Middle East are most American politicians, journalists and academics afraid to criticize?


On behalf of which country has the U.S. vetoed the largest number of U.N. Security Council resolutions?


What country do the people in the region consider the world's biggest hypocrite?

The United States.

Which countries in the Middle East have attacked U.S. ships in international waters?

Iraq and Israel. A lone Iraqi plane fired one missile at a U.S. ship by mistake. The Iraqi government quickly compensated the U.S. In 1967, Israeli airplanes and torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, killing 34 Americans. The U.S. government declared it an accident even before the ship limped into port, and to this day Congress has never held a public hearing and allowed the survivors to tell their story. Their story, by the way, is that the attack was deliberate. Israel compensated the families of those who were killed, but resisted for years paying compensation for the ship.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let them eat our words!

This image of Marie Antoinette is meant to go to bloggers who have something to say, who tell the truth. Diva Jood, one of the best word-smiths I know, received it from Utah Savage--another giant among truth tellers. Diva passed it to me. I could not be better honored, for I would die happy if I were regarded as one who spoke truth. Thank you, Diva. This is the best award ever.

We are to pass this on to others who tell the truth. Brevity is the soul of wit. I pass Marie to:

* James at An Average American Patriot. He is anything but your average patriot. Would that I had his zeal for truth. Or even just a portion of it.

* Enigma at Watergate Summer. She is monumental among bloggers. With energy which appears limitless, Enigma commits herself to telling the truth of our U.S. reality--its beauty and its dark side.

* The Poetryman and his team at The Peace Tree. Mark and the group wield truth unrelentingly to wage peace. Peace begins with justice. They write it so well: with poetry and in prose--as well as in video and Photoshop.

*Renegade Eye. A landmark among my blogging reads. His voice speaks a socialist truth.

*SueJ at Nailing Jello to the Wall. Consistently one of my favorite blogs. Great insight. Well written. So much truth: personal, social and political.

Let us all be about truth. We are privileged with education. With access to technology. With enough wealth to have the equipment to speak our truth to the world. Be a voice for the poor. Speak your truth loud and proud. And as for Marie Antoinette, we will not eat her cake. Rather, we will insist that she and her ilk instead swallow our words of truth.

Careful, oh ye Rich and Powerful--do not choke on them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tagging for Blogger Album Project

The multitalented Robert Rouse of Left of Centrist started up a project to track our musical tastes.


1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.


  • Latin: Buena Vista Social Club
  • Blues: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams
  • Pop: Carole King Tapestry (1 & 2)
  • Country: John Denver Greatest Hits
  • Soundtracks: (tie) Les Miserables (Broadway) and De-Lovely (film)
  • Folk: Wildflowers by Judy Collins
  • If I could only have one album: James Taylor (Live)


Susan Phantsy That

Mnmom at Happy to Be from Iowa

Utah Savage

Okjimm's Eggroll Emporium

Blueberry of Texas Oasis

Enigma of Watergate Summer

Monday, November 17, 2008

No Ordinary Scribbling

"Untitled Abstract" by Willem de Kooning

The wonderful Diva Jood of Journeys with Jood gifted me last week with the Superior Scribbler Award, leaving me very touched. [With apologies for going all Sally Fields on ya: now I know she had not simply made a mistake with the Brillante award she bestowed earlier--she really means it.] Diva has an MFA and is not only a fine writer but also a creative visual artist with more accomplished works than she has had time to reveal to us yet. I adore her creative writing posts; particularly memorable are the regular blog posts by her granddaughter, known as the Secretary of Strawberries and Cream. Even better, I thoroughly admire Diva's impassioned writing for justice. Utah Savage gave Diva the Superior Scribbler Award. Utah is one hell of a writer herself. I'm honored to post an award with this ancestry. Thank you very much, Diva. Your friendship and bloggy support really bless me; this award means a lot to me.

Well, here's how this thing works:
*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I take awards seriously. It means the world to me when someone says "Good job." It's tough to select only five blogs of the many I enjoy. Upon reflection, I wish to recognize:

*Carol of Carol for Peace. Carol realizes that if we want peace we need to work for justice. She lives it and she blogs it. Whether is is gardening on the personal level or protesting on the national level or volunteering for peace on the local level--Carol is active and is blogging the action. Her scenic Colorado photos add that spirituality dimension that supports peace-living. She's a don't-miss blogger.

*Ruth of Ruth's Visions and Revisions. Some of the finest posts I've read on Blogger were composed at this woman's hands. Ruth's intelligent and level-headed approach tackles the stickiest issues head-on, educating and inspiring her many enthusiastic readers. I certainly also appreciate her pithy comments on this blog. She somehow manages to be meticulous and friendly simultaneously. I met Ruth early on through an awards process by following a link at someone else's recommendation. I'm so glad I did.

*Many people love Sherry of A Feather Adrift and for good reason. I found Sherry through the Iowa connection of Essential Estrogen, but I quickly learned that Sherry's interests are not restricted to Iowa by any means. Intelligent and highly educated, she writes with equal authority on theology, law, politics, and married life. And her photography is also a treat. But my absolute favorite feature is her recent autobiographical series "Godly Humor," more engrossing than any page-turner I've ever read.

*Okjimm of Okjimm's Eggroll Emporium already has this award, but--like a second beer--what's better than a second helping of awards? OKjimm keeps me sane. His lighthearted jibes at the politicos or simply at life--warts and all--are stress relief par excellance. I looked up these outstanding posts of his for you to check out: Word Verification, Juan, and the incredible Easter Everyday. How often do you remember a post and still think about it 2, 3 or 4 months later? Jimm--your cheese curds are in the mail, but you can take the award right now.

Jan of Yearning for God. I typically find something inspiring and underlined with a faith dimension at Jan's. It might be simply a beautiful quotation. It may be a topical post: gay marriage and decrying torture are two recent examples. She is amazingly well-read. In addition, she has very interesting and enjoyable friends in the RevGal Blog Pals ring (and beyond!), so the comments section is just as worthwhile. Visiting Jan is a bright spot in my day; if you don't know her, give yourself a treat. You'll come away a better person from Yearning for God.

Innumerable times I tell myself how fortunate I am that such amazing people read this blog. This is not false flattery; I am sincere. I would like to give every reader an award. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the process that is blogging with thankful hearts. Mine is thankful today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Supporting Fr. Roy Bourgeois

Dear Readers,
I've been absent here for a few days. We leave the Midwest in ten days. We're packing--everything must go with us or get boxed up and carried to the basement. It is a hassle, and I revert to my worse self at times like these. I worry I'll forget something vital. I don't take time to blog...or to read your blogs. Mr. B.E. and I argue. I'm stressed.

Worse, I'm seriously bummed out by the latest news about Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois. You may remember I praised his courageous pro-women's ordination stance here in mid-August. His order did their best to protect him, but the long arm of the Vatican reached across the Atlantic and gave him 30 days to recant his statement supporting women's ordination or face excommunication.

Roy wrote back, a response that pretty well seals his fate. I'm sure he was prepared for this consequence and had not acted hastily. Given the state of the Church, he knew his act would be seen as provocative. But...what a state of affairs this reveals.

Let the Roman Catholic Church publish all the flowery and coyingly sweet statements it wants on the value of women. The action here overrides anything they write. I know of no perpetraitors of the sexual assault of children who were excommunicated. Perhaps there were some; I don't track it carefully. But WTF?? Simply to support women's ordination is grounds to kick ya out??? What kind of mysogynist outfit are they trying to run? This makes their negativity toward women...[or is it an insane grasp on leadership power?]...immanently clear to me--and to anyone else who cares to look. I say, "Let the world look. See and judge for yourself."

Some of my friends are personal friends of Roy's. Everyone I know respects him, as do I. Read his statement to the Vatican, and I think you will too. I privately consider his action of support for women's ordination as a sort of spiritual martyrdom act--giving up his life in the Church in a symbolic statement for what he sees as moral. It is his last gasp. He's giving everything but his life to make the point.

Some people are organizing to write to the Vatican. Roy encourages us to speak up; silence is complicity, he reminds us. But I am seriously bummed out, and I think I will save my energy for something more productive. I'm giving up on the Church. I think I've been hanging out in the vestibule, and this might be the usher opening the door out for me.

We'll see.
ACTIONS TO SUPPORT - Rev. Roy Bourgeois

Some have asked for addresses to write their support of Father Roy and to ask 
that he not be excommunicated.  Petitions are also appropriate.  
Please write or fax or email to Pope Benedict XVI, and/or the Pope’s Ambassador 
to the U.S., the Apostolic Nuncio, and/or the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, 
the group that is moving toward excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and/or 
the leaders of the Maryknoll Order.  
Their addresses are below.  
Please send a cc of any message or petitions you send to: 
Bill Quigley – Attorney for Fr. Roy Bourgeois
7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902
New Orleans, LA 70118
Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio
3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W,
Washington, DC
Telephone: (202) 333-7121 - Fax: 337-4036

Pope Benedict XVI 
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano, Europe

The Pope’s email address is:
FAX from USA: 011-39-06698-85378 
Congregation for Doctrine of Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy
Telephone:; - Fax:

Superior General, John Sivalon at 
and to the three-member Maryknoll Council at  
and/or fax to 914-944-3600
Write to: Maryknoll Council, P.O. Box 303. Maryknoll, NY 10545
Again, please send a cc of your message to:
Bill Quigley – Attorney for Father Roy Bourgeois
7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902
New Orleans, LA 70118

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rigoberta Menchu Press Conference in Postville IA 11/8/08

Posted: Monday, November 10, 200,

As part of her fact finding mission, listening to “unique testimonies” of those impacted by the May 12 ICE raid at Agriprocessors, and providing support and advocacy for that group, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu addressed members of the press in a special meeting Saturday afternoon in Postville. In an unlikely press conference setting, Menchu informally entertained press questions as she sat in the altar area of St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Postville. Menchu indicated the Postville situation was her only reason for this visit to the United States.

Menchu was drawn to Postville as she heard reports of human rights violations and the treatment of detainees as if they were criminals of high risk. She said the Postville situation should awaken the curiosity of human rights defenders and that she would ask her colleagues in Amnesty International to become involved, adding that widespread knowledge of this case is the best way to prevent such abuses in the future.

Asked why there had been such a large influx of Guatemalans to the U.S., Menchu said that after years of civil war, peace agreements failed to address the post conflict issues related to massive populations of the neglected poor, widows and orphans. Two and one half million children suffer from severe malnutrition in a country that has a strong potential for the development of natural resources. Essentially there is no work, widespread poverty, and the U.S. allies in that country continue to make increasing profits while not being interested in the poor. She was asked if Free Trade agreements had contributed to the problem and she replied that Central and Latin American countries are governed by the elite who have exploited the poor, and don’t care about civilian populations - and that Free Trade essentially reinforces the wealth of the rich. She will be meeting soon with a group in Costa Rica to discuss new ways to think about Free Trade agreements.

Menchu emphasized that immigration is a global problem. She said the Postville problem runs even deeper and was a “pressure cooker” situation with many injustices occurring that were not known until everything exploded in the May 12 raid. On the positive side of things, because of the Postville situation, she noted that perhaps this is a “fortunate moment” for the United States to deal with its immigration policies.

Although she said that her visit to the U.S. did not include official diplomatic visits, she was doing some private visits in New York on Sunday. She added that January would bring her first request for an audience with the President of the United States. She agrees with President-elect Obama that the U.S. must demand respect for human rights by its allies.

Menchu is an indigenous Guatemalan who has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those victimized by the 1960-96 civil war. She was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.

[I added the emphases throughout the article.]

The Postville situation is indeed dire to attract the attention of this world-renown advocate for human rights. Our outrage throughout the summer and fall, as we have kept abreast of this situation here, finds a real justification by the visit of Rigoberta Menchu. I imagine that the people of Postville were honored to enjoy her presence and appreciated her concern and attention.

With the U.S. economy on the decline, the plight of the immigrant in the U.S. will likely similarly decline. Still there is no plan on the horizon to deal with the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The (misplaced) focus is entirely on border protection. Comments from Monday's post ring true here, too: If you have money, you count in this world. If you don't, then you don't matter. You're invisible or--worse--you're in the way and need to be eliminated.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Public Defenders under Seige in Miami...and everywhere

When my oldest nephew became a public defender in Miami, he made us all proud. Growing up a poor kid from a farming community not even big enough for a post office, his origins were Abe Lincoln-like. He zigzagged through life meandering into interesting places...from Hollywood to Costa Rica...while we watched and wondered where he'd land.

After law school and passing the bar a few times, he landed in Miami last year. Last night he emailed to say that his office was featured in the NYTimes last weekend, the story illustrated with a video about his friend. Arthur, his former colleague, quit his post in the public defenders office due to a staggering case load. My eyes glaze over when Arthur shows us the computer printout of his cases taped to his office wall.

A justice system that works under girds a democracy. When the public defenders have to say "NO MORE CASES" it is time to fix a system that isn't working. Do click over to watch the video or read the article here (I can't embed it, sorry). The short video is really worthwhile, informative and interesting.

What do you think about the state of justice for the poor in our nation?

And--to my sobrino, who occasionally checks out Border Explorer--"Gracias por todo tu trabajo para los pobres. Me siento orgullosa de ti."

[photo credit: NY Times. Arthur on the job for the public defenders office. Bless those guys!]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

This prayer is foundational.

Forgive me when I stray into cynicism, critical or judgmental thinking--and so often I stray.

Let me be the peace I seek on this earth and in this cosmos.

Be the change.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

U.N to USA: "End the Cuba Embargo!"

photo caption: No U.S. autos post-1960's exist in Cuba. Since it is expensive to import cars from across the oceans, they keep these old vehicles in operation. This is a typical street in scene in Havana; cars are relatively uncommon.
And from the "news you won't hear on CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, ABC, ETC ETC ETC Dept.":

Massive UN Vote Supports Lifting US Embargo on Cuba--The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the 17th year in a row to demand an end to the 46-year-old US trade embargo on communist-ruled Cuba, with only three countries saying no [United States, Israel and Palau].

Some 185 of the assembly's 192 members approved a resolution, which reiterated a "call upon all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures (such as those in the US embargo) in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law." [What! The USA conform??]

The margin of support for ending the embargo has grown steadily since 1992, when 59 countries voted in favor of the resolution. The figure was 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 184 in 2007.

Ronald Godard, the US State Department's senior advisor for Latin American affairs, defended the embargo and blamed the communist regime in Havana for Cuba's woes. [insert your own anti-American snark here!]

"The real reason the Cuban economy is in terrible condition and that so many Cubans remain mired in poverty is that Cuba's regime continues to deny its people their basic human and economic rights," he told the General Assembly. [And our embargo denied the Cuban children and elderly their basic immunizations, antibiotics, cancer medications, psychotropic meds...anything developed in the US since the 1960's]

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque welcomed the vote but also looked ahead to future US-Cuban relations after next week's White House election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

[Background, in case you didn't know]: The US economic, trade and financial sanctions were imposed 46 years ago following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of the Caribbean island nation by US-backed Cuban exiles.

Noting that the US embargo is "older than Barack Obama and my entire generation," [YIKES!!] Perez Roque said the new US president "will have to decide whether to concede that the embargo is a failed policy which each time creates greater isolation and discredits his country or whether he continues, with obstinacy and cruelty, to try to wear out the Cuban people with hunger and diseases."

McCain has promised that if elected he would press Cuba's communist rulers to free the island's people. "If I'm elected president, I won't meet unconditionally with the Castro brothers, [Oh, he's a maverick alright] while they keep political prisoners in jail, stifle free media and block free elections in Cuba," he recently told a rally in Miami, home to a huge Cuban exiled community.

The comment was a swipe at his 47-year-old Democratic rival, Obama, who has said he would meet with the leaders of countries that are enemies of the United States.

A national survey by the Zogby polling organization, released on October 2, noted that 60 percent of Americans believe the White House should change its policy towards Cuba.

In an apparent reference to Obama's campaign theme of "Change," Perez Roque said that "to be coherent with the theme of change in this country (the United States) also means to change the embargo against Cuba and maintain normal and respectful relations with our country."

But Perez Roque warned that "if group interests prevail, notably those of the Cuban (exiled) mafia which controls southern Florida and which exerts great influence, then there cannot be any progress."

In Cuba itself, authorities were jubilant after the UN vote.

It reaffirmed "the world rejection of the genocidal and criminal policy of this siege and the failure of the George W. Bush administration in its aggression against Cuba," Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, head of the Cuban Communist Party's external relations department, told the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. ["Why do they hate us so much?" clueless US citizens asked one another after 9/11.]

Read the small print for what Europe thinks:
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix meanwhile said the 27-member pan-European bloc rejects "all unilateral measures against Cuba which are contrary to common accepted rules of international trade."

He said the EU believes that "the lifting of the US trade embargo would open Cuba's economy to the benefit of the Cuban people."

The embargo not only undermines the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, but also acts to "severely threaten the freedom of trade and investment."

Beyond the human rights issue, I'm peeved that this story is not reported in the US mainstream media.

After my husband and I went to Cuba on the Pastors for Peace caravan in 1998 [hit sidebar Labels "Cuba caravan" for those stories] I gave plenty of presentations/slide shows in Iowa. What I said was eye-opening new information to my audiences. I'd like to think that if the majority of us were informed that we could out-shout the Cuban-American lobby and end this embargo which even the Vatican declared "immoral."

Readers, what do you think about this? Talk to me!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 2: Day of the Dead--Border Style

Ancient thought in Mexico is that the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead grows thin this time of year. They still celebrate the Day of the Dead, which is actually a period of days. The Catholic Church traditionally remembers all deceased on November 2, All Souls Day.

At the U.S. Mexico Border, the Church celebrates this day with a bi-national Eucharist--the faithful and the presiders gather on both sides of the border wall to jointly pray--particularly for those who have died attempting to cross the border.

I've never attended it, so I don't have any photos to share, but people often speak of it as a particularly moving and special religious service. I'm sorry to miss it.

I've noticed this year a number of people in my life who have keenly felt the absence of a loved one who has died. Do you think it's possible that the veil between worlds is thinner this time of year? While I question whether there is life after death, at this time of year I prefer to put that doubt aside because it feels like there is something special happening. Have you felt anything different around the Day of the Dead?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rigoberta Menchu to visit Postville IA [update: November 8]

Rigoberta Menchú, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (and one of my heroes), will visit Postville November 8 for a day of awareness events with people of the Postville community who were affected by the May 12 raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on the Agriprocessors meat processing plant that resulted in the arrest and incarceration of some 400 undocumented workers.

Menchú is an indigenous Guatemalan (Quiché-Maya ethnic group). She's dedicated her life to publicizing the plight and promoting the rights of Guatemala's indigenous peoples, especially those victimized by the 1960-96 Guatemalan Civil War.

She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1998 Prince of Asturias Award. Menchu will participate in a public speak-out session that at St. Bridget's Church, hearing the testimonies of people affected by the ICE raid. Her day will include lunch with the Hispanic community, a press conference and wors
hip service at St. Bridget's.

Many of the undocumented workers arrested in the raid were native Guatemalans who were displaced, or whose parents were displaced, by the civil war and its political and social aftermath. They emigrated to the United States to find the employment that's unavailable in their native country which suffers from an economy and living conditions devastated by years of war and by the effects of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement on rural agricultural communities.

I did my Spanish language studies in Guatemala over a period of three years. Trying to understand the context of the country I read Menchú's testimonial biography "I, Rigoberta Menchú." It turned me on to a new way of thinking. She's received numerous international awards for her advocacy for human rights, particularly giving voice to indigenous peoples.

Menchu's presence in Postville brings international attention to this horrible situation, a mess which Diva Jood so beautifully described last month in her comments on this blog:

I think the Postville raid and the abuses by Agriprocessors has become the poster child of everything wrong with America. Greed, short-cuts, lies, dissembling, arrogance, brutality. Not what those immigrants expected when they came to this country - legally or illegally. No. They came seeking hope and wound up with leg bracelets to monitor their where-abouts.