Sunday, December 31, 2006
At least Dawn got to see it. They had pulleys at the top so you didn't have to have another person belay you, which was different from how I learned it when I went in San Francisco with my sister. I'm not sure if this is the exact place we went, but it has cool pictures:
She thought the rope helped pull you up, so it was a revelation to her that no, you get yourself up. The rope just breaks your fall if you lose your footing.
After watching the climbers on the wall, we went over to watch gymnastics. Dawn was fascinated at the girls doing the vault. Later we watched them do the uneven parallel bars, something I love to watch and wish I could do.
One older blonde girl was chalking her hands. She got on and had a lot of power, flipping between the upper and lower bar.
"Go, Britney!" her teammates called. "Brit, come on, Brit!" She did a flip coming off and only staggered slightly as she landed.
Later, we saw another girl, fully stretched out mid-air, miss grabbing the bar. She fell flat on her chest--thank God her head was still lifted up so she didn't hit her head on the ground. My heart was in my mouth watching her. You don't see stuff like that happen very often when you watch the Olympics.
Once we'd had enough, we walked over to Chinatown and had dinner at Joy Yee's. They have the best smoothies. I had mango with tapioca balls. Dawn had passion fruit with jelly--hers was more like a drink than a smoothie. She tried mine and it took a minute to get used to the tapioca.
The line out the door was much shorter than usual, maybe due to the holiday, and we got a table in record time. We split the appetizer platter: spring rolls, egg rolls, shrimp, chicken, and some slices of an unrecognizable white substance that tasted like mortadella. Dawn discovered she likes hoisin sauce. She wants to take her dad over there some time.
Afterwards we went window shopping in old Chinatown. We poked through Giftland, where I can get all the house slippers I want if I can just remember to bring money next time. Dawn liked checking out the anime posters and the lucky bamboo. We stopped to look in windows full of shiny jewelry and tiny knickknacks. "It's so small!" she marveled.
At the very end I stopped at the grocery store and the dry cleaners. "Sorry to make you wait through that," I said.
"It's OK," she said. "It's always an adventure to go out with you." I'm glad she thinks so.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Costly, small high school becomes a closing target
Published December 21, 2006
BACK OF THE YARDS -- Chicago Public Schools is considering phasing out an expensive high school that stresses small classes and internships, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Big Picture-Back of the Yards High School, 4946 S. Paulina St., was not allowed to accept any freshmen this year because district officials had concerns about the academic program at the tiny school, said Donald Pittman, district director of high school programs. Pittman said a decision about the school's future is expected by next month.
The school currently serves about 75 students and has a budget of $1.6 million, which works out to more than $21,000 per student. There are about 25 students each in grades 10 to 12, and class sizes are around 12, compared with 28 in a regular high school class.
"We need to take a closer look at the school ... and make sure our kids are receiving the support they need," Pittman said. "The money is not what's driving it, but it's definitely a factor."
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune
Friday, December 22, 2006
And here are some links to what delegation folks are getting out to the world:
Finally, here are some great photos from the trip:
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Anyway, Joey decided to go with me last night. We had hot punch at the house on the next block up for starters, then walked up Marshfield to 46th and over to Ashland, where we made a big parade crossing the street with our tiki torches, stopped at the bakery next to IHM, then went to the hall for marimbas with our pozole. Fr. Bruce plays! I didn't know that. He got up and played with some of the young guys for a while. Jose seemed pretty interested in watching the marimba players, who are all teenage boys. There were three girls there who were watching and giggling. At the end of their first number one called out, "Your number one fan!!" and they all started laughing. Who knew you could be a rock star playing the marimba?
But believe it or not, that's not the miracle. The miracle came when Joey turned to me out of nowhere and said, "I'm thinking about transferring." This was a reference to my yearlong campaign to get him and his parents to think about putting him in San Miguel. Here's a link to see what the school is like:
Frankly, I had pretty much given up on it since Joey has been saying he wants to stay with his friends and his mom seems to be looking at the idea more as a threat to get him to work than as an opportunity he should take advantage of. (His parents may be worried about the cost, too, even though it's much cheaper than regular Catholic school.)
So I don't know what hit him, but he said he was interested. "I'm glad to hear you say that. I think it would be very good for your future," I said. "They work really hard with all their kids to make sure they go to good high schools."
"At Chavez they only do that with the good kids," he said. (Much as I love Joey, I know he's not considered a "good kid" at school. He's not a bad kid, but C's are his top grade and I know he's fooling around in class a lot.)
"I know. At San Miguel they do that with all the kids."
On the way home we started talking about how to count time from B.C. to A.D. He was telling me about some timeline he found with a friend on the Internet, so he came over to my house and we found it on Google. We started looking through it and got all caught up in photos of the Great Wall of China. Here's a fun one that was part of the Wikipedia article:
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Julian and I had a very nice conversation this afternoon while his dad was welding the frame for the side gate. He was telling me they have been studying global warming in school and so at home the whole family has switched to longer-lasting, energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs. Julian swears that when he's in the basement watching TV he's turning off all the other lights. (I don't know if that's good for his eyes, but I didn't say anything.)
He was also telling me how his little brother is making a lot of progress toward walking and talking. He likes to be held upright and to kick his legs as if he's walking. And he's making those "ma,ma" noises that prep for the real "Mama" to come. Julian says he talks to his brother in English and so does Aurora at least some of the time. I brought back some baby books in Spanish from Cuernavaca--I need to go out and get a couple of English ones, too.
Then Dad called for Julian to come and put the gate in the frame. I took some shots of them working together. Later, they borrowed my flashlight so he could weld a couple more specific points. I'll have to get a shot of them together in front of their finished product tomorrow or later in the week, when they get the side fence up between my house and theirs.
I just locked the gate a few minutes ago. Tony came by in search of a few bucks but I had to tell him I'd been cleaned out already (by the less desirable element, I thought to myself). When he left, I locked the gate behind him. Somebody rang my bell at 8 o'clock this morning. Now that the new, much taller fence is up next door, people won't be able to jump the fence and bother me. Hurray.
Also, it appears someone is pouring a foundation on the corner lot across the street to build another house there. "Maybe it's somebody rich from another part of town," Julian guessed. It's certainly cheaper to build here than in other parts of the city, I'd imagine. I hope whoever is building it already has a buyer in mind (or is building it for themselves), and that they plan to live here, but we'll see...
Friday, December 15, 2006
If you look at the staff photos, you can get a little sense of the beauty of the center's buildings and grounds, but not as much as I wish you could. It's a former mansion that can sleep more than 30 people. I arrived just after a group had left, and it was incredibly quiet and peaceful, a welcome change from the nonstop delegation pace and the sprawl and mystery (to me) of Mexico City.
While at the center, I had the privilege of meeting three indigenous activists from northern Oaxaca state who had taken refuge outside the state after other members of their group were detained as their bus was going to the march in Oaxaca City on November 25. They made the important point that much of the focus has been on the capital, but human rights violations are taking place across the state. Last Friday an activist of the Trici nation was killed by snipers, I believe also in Northern Oaxaca.
Here is the action alert, from Christian Peacemaker Teams:
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I waited for them for an hour last night. Today I have a sore throat I didn't have yesterday, and I still have a house that needs someone to come through with a backhoe to clear the crap out of every room on the first floor. But it was kind of fun to hear the excitement in their voices through the messages, so I held off dinner and called them to come over. This time they were here right away.
While I was in Cuernavaca last weekend, I went shopping with my friend Kathy at the main artisan's market. She introduced me to a young man named Federico. Federico, who looks to be in his late teens or early 20s, used to live on the streets of Cuernavaca. He found his way to a local group that helps street youth develop their talents and make a legitimate living as artists. Federico carves and paints wood into various decorative pieces. I bought two sets of coasters, two crosses and two Christmas-tree ornaments, which were the gifts for the boys.
When the doorbell rang, I picked up the ornaments--one a fish, one a bird, both with many and varied colors--put one in each hand and put my hands behind my back after opening the door. "OK, guys, you have to pick who gets which hand," I told them. Fernando chose my left hand and won the bird; Oscar got the fish in my right hand. Federico had delicately printed his name in white paint in unobtrusive places on each object. I pointed that out, and Fernando and I showed Oscar where Federico had drilled a hole to put a string through his fish and hang it on the tree.
"Wow, that's cool!" said Oscar. "Thank you," they chorused, with big smiles. I'm glad to know some kids for whom this kind of present is a big deal. And iI'm glad to know Federico's Christmas will be a little nicer, too.
Monday, December 11, 2006
2.) On Monday November 27, the pro-government station, "Radio Ciudadana"falsely identified the offices of Services for an Alternative Education(EDUCA, A.C.) as a site where, "Molotov bombs are being fabricated andseveral [tactical] movements of the APPO are taking place". The broadcasturged listeners to burn down the office. Marcos Leyva, the director ofEDUCA was named and likewise threatened. In the same broadcast two otherChurch affiliated) NGOs -- Pastoral Centre and the Parish of SietePrinicipes were also named.Marcos Leyva is a friend of Global Exchange. He is a man of greatintegrity who has been involved in social justice work for many years.***
Action Request: ***Please act to safeguard both Marcos Leyva's safety and that of the otherstaff members of EDUCA and other non-governmental organizations.We ask you to please write the following officials to urge an immediatede-escalation of the conflict that includes withdrawal of Federal forcesfrom Oaxaca, the repatriation and release of all political prisoners, aswell as full investigation and prosecution of those using the radio tocall for violence against non-governmental organizations and their staff.Please write to:
Felipe Calderòn Hinojosa--see ealier post for contact info.
DR. JOSÈ LUIS SOBERANES PRESIDENTE DE LA COMISIO'N NACIONAL DE DERECHOS HUMANOS FAX + 55 56 81 71 99
LIC. ULISES RUIZ ORTIZ GOBERNADOR DEL ESTADO DE OAXACAFax: + 951 5020530, [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
1. An immediate end of acts of intimidation and repression by the federal and state police and government authorities
2. A guarantee by the Mexican government for the respect of the human rights of all Oaxaqueños most especially those who have been arrested.
3. An immediate end to the arbitrary detention in the streets of citizens.
4. An immediate end to the illegal entry of homes.
5. Cease the torture and abuse of prisoners.
6. Safe return of those who have been "disappeared".
7. Access of detainees to legal representation, family members and medical attention to those who are injured in order to ensure their well being and protection of their human rights.
8. Immediate withdrawal of the arrest warrants for those who are social activists, including members of the teachers union (SNTE in Spanish).
9. Immediate withdrawal of Mexican military from the state of Oaxaca.
Emails to the president and governor are most important, the ones further down are to state and federal human rights organizations. We heard the state org has no teeth and the feds are so far not very willing to intervene, so I'd try the federal one first.
Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
President of Mexico
Ulises Ruiz Ortiz
Governor of Oaxaca State
Dr. Jose Luis Soberanes
Presidente de la Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Fax +55 5681 7199
Lic. Lizbeth Caña Cableza
Procuradora General de Justicia del Estado de Oaxaca
Fax +951 5115 519
Lic. Jaime Mario Pérez Jiménez
Presidente de la Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos Oaxaca
Fax +915 513 5185
Monday, December 04, 2006
The message they asked us to send to the US government today was as followsÑ
Human rights are being severely violated here in Oaxaca.
There is no government functioning here. "The government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz is nothing."
They encouraged us to remind the US government to encourage Mexico to live up to human rights standards. Other folks have told us that Mexico is currently chair of human rights at the UN, a very ironic position to be in given the detentions in Nayarit, raids on schools and roundups of civil leadership happening here.
Luis: "I feel sad. I feel very angry. I don't want to live in this situation. We didn't have to live in this situatin. If we had smart people in power, this would not be necessary."
Tomorrow we go to the town of Zaachila, outside Oaxaca City, where federal police raided schools last week and arrested teachers in front of their students. We understand some people we would have stayed with have left town due to outstanding warrants for their arrest. We have been told there is hope our presence there tomorrow may defuse tensions between police and the citizenry.
I may not be able to write again until Wednesday, but I'll try to get on tomorrow to talk about one of our other meetings today if at all possible.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
From the relative of the person who died during a march: " We didn't ask for justice (in regard to her brother's death) because we know it doesn't exist. We know first hand that the person who determines justice is Ulises Ruiz. What does he do? He pays money in abundance to snipers, to assassins that have salaries."
"Teachers have been attacked in schools. They've been captured in front of students.It's happened in little towns outside Oaxaca (City). Imagine what's happening in towns further out who have no way to communicate."
(Crying) "I want someone to know what's happening in Oaxaca. So many people are disappeared. So many people are prisoners."
From the person with knowledge of the Amnesty International case: "This was part of a fear campaign to show people they could get killed for being at a barricade."
"All this for bringing coffee in the streets. Is there justice? I don't know. And how to resolve this situation, I don't know."
And this from a human rights defender working with them and with others imprisoned in Nayarit state: "A lot of human rights defenders are leaving Oaxaca state because they are afraid."
Her organization, the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights, is committed to staying, though they are already facing intimidation from police. "Maybe there will come a time when the danger is so great we have to step back, but not yet."
Please consider calling or writing the Mexican consulate in Chicago to ask that those imprisoned in Nayarit be treated legally. So far they have not been charged, seen lawyers or been able to contact family members. I'll try to get contact info for the consulate up here tomorrow.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
On the more serious side, we met with reps from the Oaxacan Human Rights Network today. They had a lot to say about the weakness of the state human rights commissioner, who is a political appointee, thus a flunky of the governor. They also had a lot to say about police treatment of detainees, including torture tactics straight out of the Jon Burge playbook in Chicago, like electroshock to the groin. They are putting together a fund to support those imprisoned in Nayarit. For more information, check out their web site (in Spanish):
Friday, December 01, 2006
This morning I arrived in the Mexico City airport just in time to watch Mexican congressional reps throw chairs and come to (very stagey-looking) blows over the inauguration of Felipe Calderón. The Televisa people loved showing that footage over and over again. I hear there were large street demonstrations in Mexico City, but I didn t leave the airport. Here in Oaxaca I was told there was a very small march, much less than feared by state officials, who reduced bus service to avoid the chance that demonstrators might commandeer them to reconstruct barricades.
The state made a concerted effort this week to remove as much trace as possible of the popular demonstrations against Gov. Ulises Ruiz. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of troops are patrolling the Zocalo and environs, the last barricade was removed a couple of days ago, and there has been some effort to remove anti-Ruiz and pro-APPO graffiti. However, there is plenty of graffiti left in areas outside the Zócalo.
Also this week, Citizen Radio (a station reported to be run by PRI supporters) encouraged people to come and burn down the offices of EDUCA, a local NGO that provides popular education, citizenship and economic development to Oaxacans. They are a partner organization of Witness for Peace. Death threats were issued against their executive director. He is now in hiding and the office was closed this week.
I will try to get links and action steps up here tomorrow. In the mean time, Anice, if you want to post the key links from the email you received about letters to Mexican government officials protesting the detention and out-of-state transfers of people here, I would appreciate it.
We have been told that we are the largest international group in the city right now. I will write more as soon as I can.