View from the Suburbs: Spring Blooms and Washington Protests

"We made it through the winter!"

It’s great to have a free day, especially when it’s a beautiful, bright early spring one.  I’ve already mowed the back yard and weeded where it was needed.  Snapdragons and yellow lilies are already blooming.  These were in some of the pots that I dragged back and forth into the garage over the past few months, when we had such an unusual number of nights (and days) below freezing.  These bright beauties seemed determined to show off even after just a short period of days of warmer weather.

Since I moved out into my house a few months ago, I have become much mellower.  The yardwork and other household tasks keep my hands and mind busy.  Of course, work itself, along with the commute that gets me there, takes up a good portion of my week days.  That’s why I haven’t been writing here as much as when I lived in my apartment much closer to work.

I still keep up with what’s going on in “my world”.  I’m sure a lot of people who hit on my blog are interested in the same topics as I am.  If you like what you see, you can click onto what’s happening in the gay news, local Houston news and weather, and news about my home state, Kansas.  Just slide down to the side bars and you’ll find what I’m reading.  My favorites are: Towleroad, The Advocate, Pink News, and dosmanzanas (if you read Spanish).  I also take a look at chron.com and Kansas.com for local news in Houston and Kansas, and cnn.com and msnbc.com for U.S.  For world news, I often read abc.es and latercera.cl (again both are in Spanish). ( I mentioned before that I had been an Arab linguist in the Air Force. That was a long time ago, and the vocabulary I used most of the time was pretty specific, so through disuse over the years, I’ve pretty much lost my Arabic, but I studied Spanish in high school, college, and elsewhere, so even though my speaking is rusty, I still read most of what’s in the newspaper fairly well.)

And don’t let me forget, it’s March Madness, and I definitely have to keep up with the games, especially since both K-State and KU are in it.  (Both won in the first round.  I’m doing pretty lousy with my picks in the pool at outsports.

So speaking of linguists, Air Force, and gay news, even with all my yardwork and other tasks, I’ve been trying to keep up with what’s been happening to Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, who were arrested during a protest against DADT (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”) yesterday, after they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence.  At the moment, it seems that nobody even knows their whereabouts, even though it was reported that they were to be arraigned today in a court in Washington, D.C.  Check Americablog and Towleroad for updates.  That’s what I’ll be doing.

Now, it looks like the sun is gone, and it might rain, so I’d better head out and put the lawnmower and extension cords back into garage.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez: A Love Feast of Dictators, and Don’t Forget the Hezbollah Appetizers

"Meet me behind the hotel at 11 o'clock, and we'll see what other conniving we can do."

"Meet me behind the hotel at 11 o'clock, and we'll see what other conniving we can do."

Knowing a second language has a lot of benefits, and for far too long, most Americans have stuck their heads in the sand and thought because they know English, they have an advantage and don’t have to learn another language.  However, being fluent in two or more languages opens up so much more of the world.

Personally, I read a number of foreign language sites every day; some are news sites and some focus on some topic or interest that I have.

Usually at night time, I check abc.es, an online news site from Spain.  That way I can see what is happening in the world, usually before sites like cnn.com or msnbc.com pick it up.  Reading the news out of another country also gives a different perspective and often there is news that isn’t even highlighted by the U.S. media.

Such was the case in an article I read last night: Arranca la gira de Lieberman para frenar la expansión de Irán en América Latina, which tells about Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s 10-day visit to Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Colombia.  (Read a similar AP article in English.)

What I didn’t realize before reading the article, but have since corroborated through other sources is how much influence Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which Iran backs, have in Latin America.  Apparently, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have become BFFs and anyone who has been paying attention knows that both of these guys have found ways to manipulate the systems of their countries in order to stay in power. Hezbollah, for its part, because of connections with Lebanese immigrants to countries like Venezuela, seems to have gotten involved in that old Latin American standby–kidnapping; and not unlike other rebel/narco-terrorist groups (i. e. FARC in Colombia), uses the ransom money extorted from victims’ families as a way of supporting itself.  (Check out this in-depth article for more details.)

Chavez and Ahmadinejad negotiated a number of deals, and it’s not difficult for those who keep up with current events to see what is going on.  Chavez already has his emulators in office in several of the Latin American countries, the latest being Zelaya from Honduras.  And although there are those who are decrying the coup that pushed him out of the country as being un-democratic, what Zelaya was doing was trying to circumvent his own country’s constitution in order to allow himself to stay in office longer, nothing different than what Chavez did a few years back.  These guys don’t really want democracy built upon a long-standing constitution; they want to create their own “democracy”, which in effect validates their dictatorship. 

As for Ahmadinejad, anyone who is not aware of the corruption in the last election in Iran is walking around with blinders on, but what goes for democracy in Iran is only pretense anyway; there is no democracy when a malevolent theocracy is in place.

As citizens of this world, we need to remain informed, as having as much information as we can is a big part of maintaining our freedom and a way to make decisions about who we support or don’t support as leaders in our own countries.  And with the Internet, we also have the ability to access many sources besides our daily print newspaper.  Of course, we must also be able to judge the veracity of these sources and extricate the biases inherent in them.

Lest you think I have some kind of slant here based on religion or otherwise, let me say, “I don’t”.  From my own personal viewpoint, I see that these guys are bad guys, bad guys who want to have power and control over millions of peoples’ lives.  And, yes, the U.S. government doesn’t like these guys either, but in reality, they are not so different from Pinochet or Marcos, whom the Reagan and Thatcher governments supported only 20-some years ago.

A dictator is a dictator is a dictator and they are like noxious weeds in the gardens of this planet.