Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Black Man From Chicago To Offer Federal Government Help To Self-Reliant Deep South—Why Don’t We Put Them To Work Rebuilding New Orleans?

President Obama has addressed the nation about the BP/Transocean oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is the video of the speech.

President Obama, a black man from Chicago, is going to use the powers of the federal government to assist Gulf Coast areas in the Deep South impacted by the spill.

(Above–A young Barack Hussein Obama with family.)

It is important that these folks in these coastal communities be allowed to maintain their way of life.

Did you think their way of life involved a minimum of government involvement in their lives?

Well..Kind of.  If you live in a city and suffer from the effects of generations of poverty that is not your fault, then you need to pull yourself up.

But if you are a Gulf Coast resident impacted by the BP/Transocean oil spill—That is different.

Why?

I don’t know.

In addition to self-reliance, another aspect of the Gulf Coast way of life is overfishing and ecologically destructive fishing methods.

President Obama left that out last night.

People in the impacted counties know how they feel about the role of the federal government.

They want the federal government to do as little as possible. People need to work to get what they have in life.

This is why Jefferson Parish, where Grand Isle, Louisiana is located, voted 62% for McCain in 2008. Grand Isle is very concerned about what the oil will do to local industries.

In Pensacola, Florida, where the oil spill is also a big deal, the two Pensacola-area counties were strong in 2008 for Sarah Palin to serve as Vice President—Escambia County was 59% for McCain and Santa Rosa County was 73% for McCain.

Louisiana parish’s that border the Gulf of Mexico were firm for the Republican ticket in 2008.

Should folks in this part of the nation be helped despite a clearly stated preference that our federal government  should remain as uninvolved as can be in the lives of citizens?

Yes. These folks should be helped because they are people and all people matter. People matter even if they don’t respect the ocean resources that sustain a way of life they say they value, and they matter even if they would let you suffer when unexpected hardship comes your way.

At the same time, folks need to hear the truth and they need to be reminded of the standards they hold others to when they are the ones asking for help.

Maybe we could put economically displaced Gulf Coast residents back to work by having them rebuild New Orleans and helping New Orleans be able to withstand the next hurricane. We could do this as part of  a federal jobs program.

That would be honorable self-reliant work.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Examples Of Cross-Party Voting in Texas—Voting Across Party Lines Most Often Does Not Make Sense

Here are two pictures I’ve taken in Houston in recent weeks of some likely cross-party voting this November.

The first picture shows an intent to vote for Democrat Bill White for Governor and Republican incumbent David Dewhurst for Lt. Governor.

The best course would be to vote for Mr. White for Governor and Democratic nominee Linda Chavez-Thompson for Lt. Gov. Ms. Chavez-Thompson has a proven record of advocacy for working people in Texas.

Why would you support for Governor and Lt. governor two people of opposing political ideologies?

The second picture shows support for Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat who will next be on the ballot in 2011, and Republican Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. Judge Emmett is on the ballot for 2010.

Mr. Emmett is known as a County Judge here in Texas. Outside Texas and much of the south you might call him a County Commissioner.

Gordon Quan is the Democrat running against Mr. Emmett in 2010.

Mr. Emmett’s web home calls him a”conservative pioneer.” Why would you support a person who identifies himself in this way while at the same time supporting a Democrat for Mayor?

In practice, Mayor Parker and Judge Emmett represent in Houston and Harris County an often centrist, business centered outlook that does appeal to some. (Though not me.)  In fairness to Judge Emmett, he is not a nut.  Yet at the same time, neither is he the right person to address the hard economic circumstances faced by so many in Harris County.

As for Mayor Parker, my view is that she willfully ignores issues of extreme poverty in Houston. She also ignores the need for greater Hispanic involvement in our political process in Houston.

Ms. Parker’s voter base is narrow and largely Anglo. She won in 2009 in a election that generated turnout of barely over 15%. While some of Ms. Parker’s supporters see themselves as progressives, economic issues are often not the chief concern of these voters.

There are many people in Houston who could use Mayor Parker’s bully pulpit and advocacy. This support has not so far been forthcoming.

When will liberals, progressives and Democrats ask more of Mayor Parker?

On a larger level, political parties provide a shorthand and a coherence that is useful to the wise voter and to the informed citizen. Politics is at core about beliefs and action rather than about personalities and playing it safe when people need help.

While there will be exceptions, the more practical and intellectually coherent approach to voting is to support a group of candidates who will work towards the same ends.

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy Flag Day To All People In All Nations–Flag Day Post # 1

It is June 14. June 14 is Flag Day in the United States.

Above is a North American flag designed by an Alex Covarrubias of Monterrey, Mexico.

You got it you right-wing crazies—I’m running this flag because all us liberals want the United Nations to come and force the United States to merge our borders with Canada and Mexico.

Though as I recall, it has been far right-wing Texas Governor Rick Perry who has actually discussed the treason of Texas leaving the union.

Happy Flag Day to all people all over the world. All people matter in all nations of the Earth.

Here is some history of Flag Day in the United States.

Here is my other Flag Day post.

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Colonial Creep Leers At Betsy Ross–Flag Day Post #2

(Blogger’s Note–This is a rerun of the Flag Day post I ran last year. I enjoy this post—So I am running it again. I did ,however, make a new Flag Day post for 2010.)

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States.

(Above–Betsy Ross knits a flag while a colonial creep leers at her.)

Here is information on Flag Day from USFlag.org.

From that link—

“The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.”

Here is a link to the Betsy Ross House.

Betsy Ross was a successful woman in many respects. Please click here to read about her life.

Is Betsy Ross the mother of the U.S. Flag? Please click here and see what you think.

I can write this blog post, but it is up to you learn the things you would like to know.

Many nations have a flag day. Please click here to see what nations have a flag day and on what day it is observed.

Please click here for a post I wrote on a contest to create a one-world flag.

File:US Flag Day poster 1917.jpg

June 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is my weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

We live in a harsh world and TPA bloggers are doing their best to show people the facts. Please visit TPA blogs whenever you get the chance.

The round-up—

It’s been a busy week in the Barnett Shale. TXsharon at BLUEDAZE: Drilling Reform for Texas has the TCEQ Timeline of Deception posted, which makes it more difficult for that agency to say “Oops!” Just in time for a summer drought we find that hydraulic fracturing seems to be contaminating Barnett Shale water.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants to know why the Texas Medical Board takes a year to suspend a doctor caught jerking off repeatedly in front of his office staff? And just suspension?

Lightseeker over at TexasKaos comments on Rick Perry’s management of the Texas state bureaucracy. In short, it is a study in incompetence. Or as he has said elsewhere, if you hate government then no one should be surprised when you can’t govern. Check it out….An Open Letter to Rick Perry: TCEQ screws up, lies about it – Gov.Perry has full confidence in them .

WhosPlayin is doing a server move this weekend and may not be back up by Monday, but wanted to spread the word about plans by Williams Co. to put a centralized gas production wastewater collection facility in Lewisville. Continue reading

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I Wish People Cared As Much About The Troops In Afghanistan As Much As They Appear To Care About Pelicans

I wish we cared about our soldiers in Afghanistan as much as we seem to care about pelicans.

Our soldiers are over there in that stalemated war and they seem to be forgotten.

As silly as all those yellow ribbons from a few years ago were in many respects, are the folks who once stuck them on their gas guzzlers not prepared to back Barack Obama as commander-in-chief?

As the Afghanistan War drags on, where are the anti-war efforts from the left? Was the issue for the left a few years ago dislike of George W. Bush instead of questions of peace instead of war?

I don’t think most people care one way or another about our war in Afghanistan or about the troops fighting that war.

All life is important, but we seem confused sometimes on what matters most.

June 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Not The End Of The Road

I drove around today in Houston and I saw these two roads.

One road ends with railroad tracks and other road ends in a grassy field.

I wager though it is not so simple. My guess is that these roads don’t end so much as they lead to another path, or cause us to think about some other way to get where we are going.

If people tell you it is the end of the road—There is a good chance they are wrong.  People are wrong all the time.

Except, of course, when they are right.

June 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments

Renew Houston—Why The Regressive Funding? Who Gets The Jobs? Where Are The Green Plans?

There is an effort to place on the November 2010 ballot in Houston an initiative to fund a large multi-year program to strengthen and rebuild Houston’s streets and drainage system. This plan is called Renew Houston.

(Above–Urban runoff. Picture taken by Robert Lawton.)

As anybody who lives in Houston knows, this is an important concern.

Here is the Renew Houston web page.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on this issue.

A Renew Houston press release says this initiative  is “citizen-driven.” What are the odds of something being “citizen-driven” in a city like Houston where turnout  for mayor’s races often runs around 15%?

Renew Houston could post a list of donors to show if it is citizen-driven.

Republican Houston At-Large City Councilmember Stephen Costello recently invited local bloggers to attend a briefing about Renew Houston. I went to this briefing.

Mr. Costello is leading this issue. Why is a Republican leading a citywide push in a Democratic city where there are so many unmet needs that go unaddressed year-after-year?

I don’t know. Next time you see one of our Democratic Councilmembers, ask them what it is they do all day.

While I support as a matter of principle large government programs meant to fix or build stuff, and that will employ people,—with the exception of taxpayer funds to build our Nero-like sports stadiums—I have questions about Renew Houston.

The sentence below is from the Chronicle story about one of the major funding sources for the plan–

“…. the “Stormwater User Fee” that is expected to amount to about $5 per month for an average homeowner and $90 a month for an average commercial property owner with 14 units per acre.”

This is a flat or regressive fee. With Renew Houston, property owners will pay the same no matter the value of the property. Should progressive ends be met by regressive means?

I also wonder who will get the jobs created over the life of the program.

On the introductory mailer sent out to voters in Houston, there was a so-called “union bug.”  This is a small union logo showing that the printing was done by a union shop.

That’s fine. I believe in unions. But what the bug suggested to me was that the Renew Houston people have gone to the unions, and said that jobs that union members may get will be forthcoming if they get on-board to support the initiative.

It is time to expand the pool of qualified blue-collar job seekers in Houston with an aggressive  program of apprenticeship and outreach into the most chronically poor Houston neighborhoods.There is no reason unions could not be part of this effort. Maybe also we could train some new engineers and college educated professionals along the way.

Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat, could insist upon this as a condition of her backing of the plan. If  she did this, maybe Ms. Parker could expand her support in the next election beyond just over half of the 16% of people who voted in the 2009 election. People in every part of Houston would see that they matter at City Hall.

District I  Councilmember James Rodriguez could do the same. At his campaign web home, Mr. Rodriguez talks about “Bringing capital improvement  projects to the district” and “Promoting development that embraces the expectations of all our stakeholders”

Here’s your chance Mr. Rodriguez. Are people in your district going to get a fair share of this regressively-funded, taxpayer-sponsored program, or are they going to be shut-out in a closed shop? You could walk around Harrisburg Blvd, and Canal Street, and Navigation Blvd. and tell folks that you are going to fight for them, instead of relying on low-turnout and keeping your mouth shut as a reelection strategy.

(Below–As illustrated here, infrastructure is quite metaphoric. Here we see that all is connected. If there is a new source of revenue and a new source of jobs in Houston, then there will be those who get the beneficial runoff of prosperity and others who will be left high and dry.)

A final concern I have is the lack of any green plans in the Renew Houston strategy presentation I was shown.

The latest issue of the excellent urban policy magazine Next American City talks about ways to reduce the flow of rainwater into drainage systems with urban gardens, rain barrels, more trees and other plans. ( I subscribe to Next American City and suggest that you do the same.)

Renew Houston should discuss and implement long-term efforts to reduce the strain on our drainage systems with some of these green plans. In this way, what we build will work better and last longer.

I’m certain an enlightened progressive like Mayor Parker would not support this program unless it employed green strategies.

Though, I do note that in her campaign plank on infrastructure, Ms. Parker says nothing about green efforts on these important and costly plans.

(Below–An urban garden in Minneapolis planted to treat storm water from the concrete parking lot also in the picture.)

For the moment, I’m withholding support for Renew Houston until the issues I mention here are addressed. While meeting an important need of infrastructure improvement,  Renew Houston also seems narrowly-crafted to benefit engineering firms, to benefit those already in the pipeline for jobs to the exclusion of people who could benefit from training and work, and to use methods of drainage and waste-water removal not up to date with the new demands of sustainable urban living.

My fellow Houston bloggers Perry Dorrell, Charles KuffnerJohn Coby and Tory Gattis were at the briefing and have written posts on Renew Houston. Each of these bloggers is committed to a better Houston and their views should be considered.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

England-United States World Cup Preview—Both Nations Looking To Recover From Tough Iraq Match

This is the third Texas Liberal World Cup preview post. This post is on the match to be played between England and the United States in Rustenburg on Saturday, June 12 at 2 PM Eastern time.

Here is my preview of the Mexico-South Africa game.

Here is a look ahead at Argentina-Nigeria.

(Above–Bristol, England. Here is information about visiting Bristol.)

As we assess this match, let’s see the basic facts for the two squads. ( It is England playing his match and not the United Kingdom. Scotland and Wales have their own teams. But for the text of this post we’ll look at the U.K. as a whole. The pictures are of England.)

For England-

Nationality: Noun–Briton(s). Adjective–British.
Population (2010 est.): 62.2 million.
Annual population growth rate (2010 est.): 0.7%.
Major ethnic groups: British, Irish, West Indian, South Asian.
Major religions: Church of England (Anglican), Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), Muslim.
Major languages: English, Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic.
Education: Years compulsory–12. Attendance–nearly 100%. Literacy–99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2009 est.)–4.85/1,000. Life expectancy (2009 est.)–males 76.5 yrs.; females 81.6 yrs.; total 79.0 years.
Work force (2009, 31.25 million): Services–80.4%; industry–18.2%; agriculture–1.4%.

(Of the 62 million people in the U.K., about 49 million English.)

(Above–Chicago. Maybe the best American city of them all. Here is information about visiting Chicago.)

For the United States

  • Full name: United States of America
  • Population: 314.7 million (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Washington DC
  • Largest city: New York City
  • Area: 9.8 million sq km (3.8 million sq miles)
  • Major language: English
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, chemical products, food and live animals, military equipment and aircraft
  • GNI per capita: US $47,580 (World Bank, 2008)

(The U.K. facts are from the U.S. State Department. The U.S. facts are from the BBC. At both locations you can find extensive information about the nations of the world.)

(Above—English countryside in an area called Widecombe in the Moor. This picture was taken by a Dennis Redfield.)

Human Rights are an important aspect of any nation’s game.  Let’s review how Amnesty International sees the U.K.—

“Amnesty International has released a new briefing outlining its call for a full, independent and impartial inquiry into UK involvement in human rights abuses post-11 September 2001. The briefing outlines ten key questions that an inquiry should seek to answer.”

You can read the full article here. The U.K. sure got itself into a mess when it went along with George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq.

Here is all of the Amnesty content on the U.K.

(Below—Badlands National Park in South Dakota. this picture was taken by Wing-chi Poon. Here is information about visiting this park.)

Here is what Amnesty has on the United States—

“Since June 2001, more than 334 individuals in the United States have died after being struck by police Tasers. AI is concerned that Tasers are being used as tools of routine force, rather than as weapons of last resort. Rigorous, independent, impartial study of their use and effects is urgently needed.”

Anyone who thinks the U.S. does not have a number of human rights issues is mistaken. We’ve made great progress since the days of Jim Crow, the second-class status of women, and the near-complete closeting of gay folks that existed 50 years ago. Yet one consequence of this progress is to illustrate how far we still must go. For example—Economic justice is denied to millions who work hard each day and still don’t earn a living wage and who can not afford health insurance for themselves and their families.

Here is all that Amnesty has to say about the U.S.

The bottom line is that even in countries that some in the world may associate with the advancement of human rights, that there is much more to be done.

(Above–The great warrior Tecumseh. Tecumseh lived 1768-1813. He fought to the last against the taking of his land.  Here is a timeline of American history.)

Match Summary—In this battle of mother country against former colony, let’s all root for each of these global powers to meet the hopes of the world’s people in terms of human rights and global peace. The unlawful invasion of Iraq was an “own goal” of self-inflicted harm for both these nations. Hopefully the lessons learned from Iraq will force both America and the U.K. to choose diplomacy over war in the years ahead. One way the U.S. can learn from the U.K. playbook is to continue the drive towards universal health care.  With some sense of decency and human concern returned to the White House in 2009 after 8 years of George W. Bush, progress has been made on this front. Yet there is still more to be done.

Here is the link to the British government.

Here is the link to the White House where Barack Hussein Obama serves as President of the United States.

(Below–Stonehenge. Who the hell knows why it was built? Here is a history of England.)

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This May Be Why Your Online Order Did Not Arrive

Why did your online order not arrive from the factory in China that is so bad that people would rather kill themselves than work?

Maybe it was because the container your goods were in was dumped in a Houston city park instead. Such as the containers you see above that are at current in a Houston city park.

Don’t worry though–Your free shipping and lower prices will still apply while the order is reshipped. The folks in the factory can just work some more overtime for $1 an hour until they pass out.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Argentina Vs. Nigeria World Cup Preview—Both Nations Have The Chance For Advancement

This is second installment of Texas Liberal World Cup previews. This post will look at the game to be played in Johannesburg on June 12 between Argentina and Nigeria. This game will be played at 9:30 AM Eastern U.S. time.

(Here is my preview of the Mexico-South Africa match.)

(Above–Old and new building styles in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here is information about visiting Buenos Aires.)

Let’s check out the basic facts about the two teams.

For Argentina

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Argentine(s).
Population (July 2007 est.): 40.3 million.
Annual population growth rate (2001): 1.05%.
Ethnic groups: European 97%, mostly of Spanish and Italian descent; mestizo, Amerindian, or other nonwhite groups 3%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 1.5%, Jewish 0.8%, other 2.5%.
Language: Spanish.
Education: Compulsory until age 18. Adult literacy (2001)–97%.
Health: Infant mortality rate–16.16/1,000. Life expectancy (2000 est.)–75.48 yrs.
Work force: Industry and commerce–35.8%; agriculture–9.5%; services–54.7%.

(Above–Lagos, Nigeria at sunrise. Here are some facts about Lagos.)

For Nigeria

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Nigerian(s).
Population (2008): 148 million.
Population growth rate (2007): 2.2%.
Total fertility rate (avg. number of children per woman in 2006): 5.4.
Ethnic groups (250): Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, and Kanuri are the largest.
Religions: Muslim, Christian, indigenous African.
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Kanuri, others.
Education: Attendance (secondary)–male 32%, female 27%. Literacy–39%-51%.
Health: Life expectancy (2006)–47 years.

(These links are from U.S. State Department fact sheets. There is a lot of information about these two nations and about the world at this site.)

(Above–The Cerro de los siete colores or seven-colored hill in Jujuy, Argentina. This is a picture taken by Augusto Sarita. Here is information on visiting  the region in Argentina where this hill can be found.)

Now that we’ve reviewed some of the basic demographics, let’s see what Amnesty International has to say about human rights in these important nations.

For Argentina—

“Amnesty International has welcomed the prison sentence handed to a former Argentine president responsible for crimes against humanity in the 1970s. Reynaldo Bignone, a former military general, was found guilty of torture, murder and several kidnappings that occurred while he was commander of the notorious Campo de Mayo detention centre between 1976 and 1978. The 82-year-old, who was appointed de facto president of Argentina by the military junta in 1982, has been sentenced to 25 years in jail. Five other military officers were also given long jail sentences by a court in Buenos Aires province…”

That is some good news— A Goal for Argentina.

Here is the full Amnesty report for Argentina.

(Below—The Gurara Falls in the Gurara River in Nigeria. Here are pictures of the falls and area around the falls.)

For Nigeria—

“The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is responsible for hundreds of extrajudicial executions, other unlawful killings and enforced disappearances every year. The majority of cases go uninvestigated and unpunished. The families of the victims usually have no recourse to justice or redress. Many do not even get to find out what exactly happened to their loved ones. Amnesty International’s 2009 report, “Killing At Will: Extrajudicial Executions and Other Unlawful Killings By The Police in Nigeria,” investigates the actions and human rights abuses perpetrated by the NPF. Amnesty International documented 29 cases of victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions who had never appeared before a judge.”

Well…not much good we can say about this.

Here is the full Amnesty report for Nigeria.

Summary—Nigeria needs to step up on human rights. Hopefully the new President, Goodluck Jonathan, will lead the way. Nigeria’s life expectancy  of 47 is also terrible. Argentina is a nation still recovering from years of dictatorship, but that has established itself as a democracy. Let’s all cheer on both nations as they progress towards  a better life for their people.

(Below–A 1930 coup in Argentina. Here is a history of Argentina.)

Here is the BBC profile of Argentina.

Here is the BBC profile of Nigeria.

Here is the web home of the government of Argentina.

Here is a link to a number of web addresses for agencies of government in Nigeria.

(Below—A horse and rider from the Nok people. These folks are first known culture of Nigeria and may go back as far as 3000 years ago. Here is a history of Nigeria.)

June 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Preview Of Mexico-South Africa World Cup Match—Who Has The Edge In Human Rights?

The first match of the World Cup will be played at 9: 30 AM U.S. Eastern Time on Friday June 11. This match will be between Mexico and host team South Africa.

(Above–Toltec warrior columns in the city of Tula in the Mexican state of Hidalgo.  Here is a good history of Mexico.)

This post is the first of a series of previews I’ll be writing of World Cup matches.

Let’s begin with the some basic facts.

(Below—Mexico City. Looks like a smoggy day. Here is information about visiting Mexico City.)

For Mexico-

Nationality: Noun and adjective–Mexican(s).
Population (July 2009 est.): 111,211,789.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): 1.13%.
Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish (mestizo) 60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%.
Religions (2000 census): Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6%, other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%.
Language: Spanish.
Education:
Years compulsory–11 (note: preschool education was made mandatory in Dec. 2001). Literacy–91.4%.
Health (2009):
Infant mortality rate–18.42/1,000. Life expectancy–male 73.25 years; female 79 years.
Work force (2008 est., 45.5 million):
Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing–21.0%;services–32.2%; commerce–16.9%; manufacturing–18.7%; construction–5.6%;transportation and communication–4.5%; mining and quarrying–1.0%.

(Below–Cape Town. I hope black folks can find good paying work on those docks in the new South Africa. Here is information on visiting Cape Town.)

For South Africa

Nationality: Noun and adjective–South African(s).
Annual growth rate (2006 World Bank Group): 1.1%.
Population (2007, 47.9 million): Composition–black 79.7%; white 9.1%; colored 8.8%; Asian (Indian) 2.2%. Official figures from 2007 South African Census at
http://www.statssa.gov.za.
Languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga (all official languages).
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.
Education: Years compulsory–7-15 years of age for all children. The South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996, passed by Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational opportunities for black children, mandating a single syllabus and more equitable funding for schools.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2007)–58 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy–52 yrs. women; 49 yrs. men. Health data from 2007 Census Report:
http://www.statssa.gov.za.

(The links here are from U.S. Department of State fact sheets. There is a lot of information to be found at these links.)

You’ve got to give the advantage to Mexico based on life expectancy.  There is a roughly 25 year edge here for our friends south of the U.S. border. That’s what you get when your leaders go on for years insisting there is no relationship between HIV and AIDS.

(Below–A picture of a Yucca forest in Mexico taken by Tomas Castelazo. Here are facts about Yucca trees.)

How does Amnesty International see the two nations? Who has the human rights advantage?

From Amnesty on Mexico—

“Human rights concerns persist, particularly at the state level where violence surrounds local elections and misuse of the judicial system is common. Federal efforts to combat violence against women in the border town of Ciudad Juárez have continued with limited success. A number of human rights defenders have been threatened and at least three journalists have been killed despite proposed legislation to strengthen human rights protection in the Constitution.”

Here is the full Amnesty report on Mexico.

(Below—The Drakensberg Mountains are the highest mountain chain in South Africa. Photo taken by pzfun. Here is information about visiting these mountains.)

Here is Amnesty on South Africa—

“A significant number of foreign nationals living in South Africa continue to report facing prejudice, discrimination and abuse on a daily basis. Both the International Organization on Migration and Human Rights Watch completed extensive research on the issue of migrants since xenophobic violence exploded in 2008. Many people were killed and more than 100,000 displace during the violence. Local South Africans complain foreign workers are taking away valuable jobs. Although unemployment numbers demonstrate a decline since 2001, the Labor Force Survey approximates 23% of South Africans are unemployed. The construction fueled by the 2010 World Cup is said to have increased the employment outlook over the next several months.”

Here is the full Amnesty report on South Africa.

Here is a profile of Mexico from the BBC.

Here is a profile of South Africa from the BBC.

Summary—This is a close call. Two great and flawed nations are in this match. South Africa has undergone a historic transformation form apartheid to a wider democracy while Mexico is a land that has contributed a great deal to North American history and culture. On the other hand, South Africa has let down the world in its response to AIDS and dominance of the ruling African National Congress threatens to diminish the quality of South African democracy, while Mexico sometimes looks like a failed state in its inability to stop drug-related violence. Let us cheer on both nations as they work towards a more complete realization of their potential.

Here is the official web site of the government of Mexico.

Here is the official web site of the government of South Africa.

(Below—Zulu warriors in 19th century South Africa. Here is a very useful history of South Africa.)

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance Round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above are the Guadalupe Mountains out in West Texas. Here is the link to Guadalupe Mountain National Park. I’ve lived in Houston for 12 years and have never been to West Texas. It is just so far away.

Here is the round-up—

This week on Left of College Station, Teddy asks if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell could be coming to an end, and also covers the week in headlines. Teddy at will be looking back this week at highlights from Left of College Station’s first two years of blogging, and will be taking the month of June off from blogging. Look for more in-depth coverage of politics and social commentary in July, including extensive research and investigations. Thanks to the Texas Progressive Alliance for supporting political and social thought to the Left of College Station.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson points out that even though there’s been another audit of TxDOT, nothing will change until Texas gets a new governor: TxDOT’s management audit, we’ve heard it all before.

Harris County is considering creating an elections administration department with a non-partisan, unelected appointee at the helm. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is in favor of it, but irregular contributorOpenSourceDem is not.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is tired of racist, Republican fearmongerers driving poor policy decisions on the border.

Off the Kuff took a close look at the UT/Texas Trib poll of the governor’s race. Continue reading

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

When You Want Active Government & More Regulation To Combat A Corporate Disaster Oil Spill, You Are Agreeing With What Liberals Have Been Telling You For Years

If people want President Obama and the federal government to provide a more aggressive response to the Gulf Coast oil spill…

…And if people want more regulation of offshore drilling and more regulation of companies that pay shareholder dividends while they are polluting the oceans….

….Then let’s be clear about what people want.

What people are seeing in the case of the BP oil spill is the case for an active government that regulates corporations for the good of the public.

These are the points that liberals and progressive have been making for years.

Do you really think corporations will ever do the right thing unless they are forced?

Here is a link to President Obama’s five minute weekly speech for June 5. This week’s speech was made from Louisiana and is about the spill.

June 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oil Booms In Houston Meant To Prevent Seepage Of Nature Into Our Productive Polluted Waterways

Here is a picture I took last week of Buffalo Bayou here in Houston.

You see that there is one those orange containment booms like those being used to protect the Gulf of Mexico coast from oil from the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

Things are a little different in here in Houston.

That boom is in fact intended to prevent any infectious nature—like those alien trees in the picture— from seeping into the Bayou or into any other of our economically-productive polluted waterways.

We don’t want the balance of things upset here in Houston.

Also, did you know that you purchase oil booms for your own use?

You sure can.

June 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment