Thursday, June 12, 2008

For the Addict Who Still Suffers

Last weekend at the close of the 2008 Texas State Democratic Convention we were turned out into the streets of Austin after midnight. I was waiting for a bus on 4th and Rio Grand when George B. happened by and stopped to talk. He asked me to take his picture and to remember him. He said, "I probably need to go to heaven." I was moved by a sense of the tragic that weighs upon and possesses the aura of Austin's street people -- and there are so many -- but when I uploaded the picture of George B. for review and enhancement, I was stunned by the image of suffering that he portrayed.

I don't yet know what happened during the process, but the abstractions produced by my Nikon D80 that night convey more about the life of suffering of George than I could ever say with words.

That early Sunday morning, the week Obama was proclaimed the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, as I stood filled with a sense of hope for my country's future, George attempted to communicate to me his sense of failure and of powerlessness, having tried so many times to get clean and sober and to establish a life of recovery.

Together, we acknowledged the freedom he claims to enjoy, if not from addiction, at least from the work-a-day world of responsibilities under which most Americans of the middle and working classes struggle to make ends meet all the while feeling encumbered by worsening economic conditions.

This one is for you, George B., and for all the addicts and alcoholics who continue to suffer -- those dying in the streets and "needing to go to heaven," and for those who continue somehow to function in a culture that provides so little sense of worth or meaning. May the Kingdom of God open its gates to all of us who belong within Its Realm and who pray that the Light of Compassion and Wisdom will lead us to His Promises.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

2008 Texas State Democratic Convention

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine Delivers Keynote:

A Tribute to Lady Bird:

Chelsea Clinton:


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MEXICO: The Danger of "Narcocorridos"


Here in West Texas, we are considered to be under the extended reach of the Sinaloa Federation Drug Cartel, whose capital is in Culiacan, Mexico, on the west coast.

The Sinaloans control the nearby Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua along the Texas US Border, as well as Durango, Nayarit, Jalisco, Michoucan, Guerrero, and parts of Oaxaca along the Pacific west coast of Mexico.

After two decades or more of struggle , they recently confederated with the Tijuana Cartel which controls the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur.

Now known as the Sinaloa Federation, they are currently waring with the Gulf Cartel for the areas in and around Acapulco, Guerrero; in the state of Oaxaca on the west coast south of Mexico City; the state of Coahuila de Zaragoza along the Texas border; and the state of Zacatecas in the central region.

The ongoing battles in the street
s of Juarez are part of an internal-federation rebellion involving paramilitary units and street gangs controlled by the cartel. Whereas, the battle zones in the northeastern cities of Monterrey and Nuevo Loredo are part of the war with the Gulf Cartel, which is centered in the states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

A quick look at a map of the Texas border region reveals the entry point at El Paso to Interstate-10 and at Loredo to Interstate-35, both considered to be major corridors for drug trafficking northward into the United States of America. [Click-on the map for a close-up view detailing the states listed above.]

The underworld of the narcotraficantos has become so much a part of Mexico's counter-culture that since the late 80s a new genre of music has sprung up among the working and underclass people in Mexico. As the intra-cartel wars for control of Mexico surged to near civil war proportions over the past two decades, the music and its musicians have become a part of the culture of drug heroes and folk legends with its own associated subculture of victims and survivors.

That we might emphasize the international attention the cartel wars have captured
, we present today's featured article, picked-up by our internet crawlers from one of Great Britain's national papers, the D
aily Telegraph.

Mexico: the danger of 'drug ballads'
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/06/2008
Ioan Grillo reports

In the past two years, 15 Mexican musicians have been murdered. Their crime: to fall foul of the country's drug barons.

[At Right: Grupo Cartel de Sinaloa pose in a cemetery full of extravagant graves, most of young drug traffickers who died violent deaths.]

It was three in the morning and the Mexican group Banda Guasavena were driving back from a concert at a cockfighting festival, just over the border from Texas. The audience had been even more rapturous than usual and Fausto Castro-Elizalde, the band's horn player, recalls them chatting happily about the evening.

Then Kalashnikov bullets started flying through the window. 'The whole moment was unreal,' he says. 'One second we were all happy after the show. The next we being cut up by bullets.'

Castro-Elizalde, 34, was hit by seven 'caps' in his arm and legs but miraculously remained conscious. His cousin and the band's 27-year old singer, Valentin Elizalde, was not so lucky. 'He died instantly. He fell into my arms and I kissed him,' says Castro-Elizalde.

Elizalde's murder is not an isolated incident. In the past two years, assassins have shot, burnt or suffocated at least 15 Mexican musicians. The latest victim was sprayed with 20 bullets as he sang alongside his band, Brisas del Mar, at a dance near the Acapulco resort in March. In December, three entertainers were killed in a week: one singer was kidnapped, throttled and dumped on a road, a trumpeter was found with a bag on his head and a diva was shot dead in her hospital bed.

The attacks on musicians come amid a wave of bloodshed in Mexico, which has usurped Colombia as the drug trafficking capital of the Americas, unleashing violent turf wars and fighting with police. For their part, Mexican musicians have been increasingly singing about cocaine, corpses and Kalashnikovs alongside their traditional tales of poverty and lost love.
The article continues here