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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ocupy World Street

Book report
by Olga  L. Miranda


     This book offers a global vision about the current American political system from a critical and prospective analysis. Moreover, this documented essay proposes a strategy for a substantive change oriented to create a better world system based on a real democracy for all countries, and demanding a more rational leadership from the political institutions of the Unite States of America.  As an additional value, this study is based on the most revolutionary and strong concepts from the philosophical, economic, and socio-political contemporary theories.
     This report is aimed to point out the central thesis developed on this wise social essay, mainly, those related to the foreign policy as important function of the political American system and one of the most essential powers of the president.  For instance, this report will pay attention to the connection between political priorities in the USA government’s agenda and global problems; the interaction between democracy and economy and its impacts on the other nations’ interests; the role of some social beliefs and cultural values on the emergency of a new political paradigm; and the essential reasons that explain why it is necessary a political reform.
     Ross Jackson, author of this “courageous piece of work” was born in Canada in 1938, and educated in Canada and the USA. He has been an influential thinker as well a successful business man since it is counting on his favor a very intense and active life not only in the economic and political field but also in the theoretical area so he has published many other works and earned a PhD in the theory and practice of problem solving. Also, he has been one of the United Nations experts. For instance, in 1995, he helped organized the Global Commission to Fund the UN and coedited its report, The UN: Policy and Financing Alternatives. From this remarkable professional experience the author gives us, in his last book, a complete framework about the main ideological trends of the modern capitalism with the United States of America at its head.
     "Occupy World Street; a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform" has a very good explanatory introduction about the goals of the whole book, and its 6 main parts.
     The first part is an explanation about how the limits of the natural resources, ecological stress, and peak oil are demanding urgent solutions to the traditional political systems. The author claims that environmental issues must be a priority in political agendas. He mentions those warnings were given in the historical report Limits of Growth published by the Club of Rome in 1972. In particular, he recommends that states must include measures of environmental statistic as important economic data. In addition, he makes note that the USA has to turn to use GPI as a measure of progress instead GDP due to growth is not more indicator of a real national and individual progress neither it is a proof of a good political administration.
     Second part, called “The Drivers of Destruction” is the biggest one and central in the book. Ross Jackson takes the Thomas Kuhn’s idea about shift of paradigm as method of analysis and kept focused on targeting the dominant world-view and the traditional political systems as responsible for the collapse of the civilization. He brings updated concepts of capitalism, and very interesting questions about diverse forms of capitalism based on different cultural and social values. So thus, he asked,  “What if we focused on cooperation rather than completion?  And “Why are some nations rich and some poor?” Furthermore, in the chapter about the American experience, Jackson argued how the foreign policy of the USA during twentieth century shows the clear pattern of protectionism. He points out that Latin America was earmarked as the United States “colony” to supply cheap raw materials- a key component in its economy strategy, ensuring that the value added was strong enough to prevent Latin America from developing competitive industries”. Part 2 includes as well, an exposition about the neoliberal project and its myths such as, “growth is good”, “free markets benefits all”, “markets are self correcting”. But the realities and negative consequences came soon to deny this postulates. The neoliberal model was mostly encouraged during early 80’s by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher administrations, and particularly designed and applied by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization.
     At the end of this part is reveled the real relation between democracy and free market. The writer cites to David Held, professor of political science at the London School of Economics, when he stated,  “Inequality undermines or artificially limits the pursuit of democratic decision-making”. Democracy is swelled by a socio-economic order controlled by business interests. ’Free market’ and democracy are simply incompatibles”, concludes Jackson.
     In part 3, called “The Empire”, are developed arguments that present the USA as a corporatocracy, where the financial institutions, the military, and the medias control the political institutions, the society is dominated by the culture of money, and the democracy was gone. According Jackson, the prime drafter of the US Constitution, James Madison put in clear clear the main function of the state is to protect the rich ones, the property owners against the poorest one. Also, Jackson cites the current inefficient system of registration to vote, which makes the USA one of the nations with less registered voters in elections. But the strongest argument is offered when the author provides examples about the power of corporations over the political institutions. In fact, argues Jackson, the power of American corporations has been even supported by the Supreme Court such as happened on January 2010. Seemly, in a CBS News, and New York Times poll on 2004, and 2006, respectively, was showed that members of the Congress were financially corrupt. Finally, it is shocking to know from this book that according to a CIA agent Ralph McGhee, misinforming the citizens is one of the CIA missions.
     Part 4 is about the new social and political values that the human beings have to create to save their civilization. The most important idea of this part is about a new segment of American population labeled by Jackson “the Cultural Creatives”, who represents the 26 % now, and are creating new point of views and social values based on the principle that all things can’t be valued in a monetary measure.
Paul Ray, who has noted an increase in the number of so-called "cultural creatives" in the USA from 4% in the mid 1970s to 24% in the mid 1990’s. The latest number is 29% and growing, both in the USA and abroad. These individuals, mostly women incidentally, are characterized by their primary values being non-commercial. These are precisely the people who are making Civil Society a power to be reckoned with in the 21st century.
     Another crucial argument in this part is related to the concept of Civil Society and its growing role and importance on international and national scenery. The members of the civil society represent a significant potential for bringing changes into the socio-political system.
      Part 5 “Toward a Gaian World Order” provide a bunch of arguments about how to create a new world order based on an economic and politic system that would not destroy the environment neither sacrifice the democratic institutions.
     Part 6 is about how to get there. Basically is giving a strategy to breaking away from dysfunctional systems and create a new political order based on equality and fair relations between the nations.
     Occupy World Street is, definitely, a book to be read by those who want to know the main weakness of the America political system from a global view, as well to be aware about the main objective trends that are defining the future of the USA nation and the world in general. It is a documented work based on updated data and the most revolutionary and critical theories, and aimed to create a new paradigmatic world-view as a base for more democratic, and sustainable societies.

     Jackson, Ross. Occupy World Street. A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform. Foreword by Hazel Henderson. Chelsea Green publishing White River junction, Vermont, 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Florida and California

Florida and California, Two Plates with the Same Taste.

by Olga L. Miranda

“They say California's the big burrito,... Florida is a big tamale". Two different dishes identify two different states of the United State of America, but both plates represent the same cultural tradition.
Florida is a peninsula on the southeastern of USA with a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This territory, with large swamps and heated by hurricanes, was called by the conquests with a name that means 'full of blossom' or "feast of the flowers" so is called the Spain’s Easter celebration. California, on the other hand is sited in Western USA and share border with Mexico. This land, hated by earthquakes and considered an exotic and mysterious paradise of untold promise on the distant Pacific Coast, was called at the beginnings The Gold Rush State due to people from all around the world flooded San Francisco when some gold fields were discovered there during the nineteen century. By looking at all the above, these states seem very different, but they are not so different that we can't compare them and find similarities.
When we know more deeply both states, their history, culture and population, many similarities start to come out. For example, they have analogous periods of historic evolution, they have important touristic and cultural centers famous all around the world, and their populations are both the best representation of the diverse and complex social mix of this country. Definitely, we can state that Florida, the current Sun Shine State, and California, the current Gold State have for many reasons, comparables histories, cultures and population. First of all, the history of both states have had three points in common: near beginning, remarkable linking with some Latin countries, and the tragedy of the native Indian population's devastation. Both Florida and California were colonized by the Spanish Empire that attempted to control whole the New whole World that included South and North America. Nevertheless, England, French and Spain were fighting for these territories during the centuries, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, and the first part of nineteen, it was Spain who established settlements and missions, and imposed its military power, culture and religion. However, in the middle of the nineteenth, not only Florida but also California had become part of the life of the United States.

Florida was the twenty-seventh state of the United States on March 3, 1845 and California was admitted as the thirty-first state on September 9, 1850. The second point in common is the relationship with some Latin countries. For example, it is a very curious event in the history that Britain gained control of Florida in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba, which the British had captured from Spain during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). In addition, it is well known that California was part of Mexico. In 1821 when this Hispanic country gained its independence from Spain, Alta California became a state in the First Mexican Empire. Afterward, United States declared war on Mexico and took this territory as part of USA through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Moreover, large waves of Hispanic immigrants have been coming to current Florida and California bringing customs, traditions, languages, which have had enormous influence in their society.

The third point in common in both states history is related with the native population. Indeed, like the Seminoles from Florida, the original communities of Indians from California were devastated and forced to leave their lands and work as slavers. According some studies, the declined tendencies of their population were due to Old World epidemic diseases, violence, nutritional changes, and cultural shock. Especially in some areas, such as what is now San Francisco, they were directly affected by the Gold Rush. In fact, most of native tribes there were scattered or destroyed. Finally, we can say that Florida and California have had the same historic vicissitudes and probably they will have the same kind of tendencies in their future developments.

The second similarity among Florida and California is in their culture, so they both have very important cultural and touristic centers that are popular all around the world, and they exhibit comparable cultural diversity because of the constantly immigration . Like Florida, California counts with beautiful and sunny beaches and others natural environments which make the people to choice their locations as ideal resort destinations. In addition, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami are global cities, it means that are cities deemed to be important node points in the global economic system and with remarkable cultural significance in the world. Not only Florida but also California have renowned cultural institutions, such as notable museums and galleries, orchestras, notable film centers and theatre centers. Also, they have a lively cultural scene, including film festivals, (such as Hollywood in Los Angeles and Florida film festival), premieres, a thriving music scene, nightlife, art galleries, and street performers, annual parades. In Both states we can find the famous Disney World and recreation centers such as SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo in San Diego California, and Kennedy Space Center, Dinosaur World and Circus Sarasota, and Everglade National Park in Florida. Secondly, both states concentrate one of the most diverse cultural in the nation.

Although Florida was more influenced from the Europe countries such as Spain and French, and from The Caribbean Islands such as Cuba and Puerto Rico, and California have been more open to East Asia and Mexico, receiving immigrants from Japan, China, Philippines and Mexico, they have both the same impressive cultural variety and most of Hispanic influences. They have both large Hispanic communities that are impacting every day in the social life in many ways. For instance, California has a serious problem with thousands of illegal immigrants, and Florida, on the other hand, has a high social violence and crime due to many people who arrive from different Latin countries without education and knowledge of the English language becoming unemployed. Concluding, Florida and California are both melting pots as well as an international crossroads to the U.S. , and are among the most ethnically diverse regions of the world. It means they have a rich culture, but hard challenging to face in order to built social scenarios where the people could live in peace and security.

 The third comparable quality of Florida and California is their population, so they have the same demographic profile: diverse ethnic groups, and diverse language spoken. In fact, almost four millions of Hispanic are living in the Sun Shine State, which represent 21% of state population . Above all, the Cuban community, that is one of the biggest in this state, have a strong influence and weight on its politic and culture life. Similarly, California has a marked presence of the Hispanic population, so it is 37% of state population being the biggest the Mexican population of 83% of Hispanic people which has a very important effect on diverse social areas. Also, both states have African American and Asia communities, 6.7% and 12.5% respectively in California, and 15.66% and 2.11% respectively in Florida. The diverse languages spoken in both states is another remarkable characteristic that make them similar. In both states English is the official language but not only of all. Spanish, French Creole, German, Italian, and even Portuguese are spoken in Florida. Furthermore, according some sources, there is a tendency to English decreased by -2.37%, and Spanish increased +2.21%, Likewise, California has the English as a first language, but also is spoken Spanish(28.21% spoke Spanish at home). In addition to English and Spanish, is spoke Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Korean as a mother tongue. I think that to visit Florida and California would be a pretty nice experience to getting contact with most diverse customs, traditions, and languages existed in our globalized planet.

Definitely, California and Florida, beyond the differences between Western or Southeastern culture, hippie or salsa music, earthquake or hurricane, the Mexicans or Cubans immigrants, they are two faces of only one penny. They have had many similar historic developments, and they have the same type of cultural diversity and demographic profile signed for a great ethnic complexity and for the Hispanic historical tradition as their principal ingredient. They are an amazing and complex socio-cultural mix with Latin flavor.

Created by Olga L. Miranda 03.24.2010

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Cuentan que una vez se reunieron en un lugar de la tierra todos los sentimientos y cualidades de los hombres. Cuando el aburrimiento había bostezado por tercera vez, la locura como siempre tan loca, les propuso: ¿vamos a jugar a las escondidas?
La intriga levantó la ceja intrigada y la curiosidad sin poder contenerse preguntó: "a las escondidas ... y ¿eso cómo es?"
"Es un juego - explicó la locura - en que yo me tapo la cara y comienzo a contar desde uno hasta un millón mientras ustedes se esconden y cuando yo haya terminado de contar, el primero de ustedes que encuentre, ocupará mi lugar para continuar el juego".
El entusiasmo bailó entusiasmado, secundado por la euforia, la alegría dio tantos saltos que terminó por convencer a la duda, e incluso a la apatía, a la que nunca le interesaba nada. Pero no todos quisieron participar. La verdad prefirió no esconderse. ¿Para que? Si al final siempre la hallaban. Y la soberbia opinó que era un juego muy tonto (en el fondo lo que la molestaba era que la idea no hubiera sido de ella) y la cobardía prefirió no arriesgarse.
Uno, dos, tres ... Comenzó a contar la locura. La primera en esconderse fue la pereza, que como siempre tan perezosa, se dejó caer tras la primera piedra del camino. La fe subió al cielo y la envidia se escondió tras la sombra del triunfo que con su propio esfuerzo había logrado subir a la copa del árbol mas alto.
La generosidad casi no alcanza a esconderse. Cada sitio que hallaba le parecía maravilloso para alguno de sus amigos. ¿Que si un lago cristalino? Ideal para la belleza. ¿Que si una rendija de un árbol? Perfecto para la timidez. ¿Que si el vuelo de una mariposa? Lo mejor para la voluptuosidad. ¿Que si una ráfaga de viento? Magnífico para la libertad .... Así terminó por acurrucarse en un rayito de sol.
El egoísmo en cambio encontró un sitio muy bueno desde el principio: airado, cómodo, pero solo para él. La mentira se escondió en el fondo de los océanos (mentira, en realidad se escondió detrás del arcoiris) y la pasión y el deseo en el centro de los volcanes. El olvido ... se me olvidó donde se escondió el olvido.. pero eso no es lo más importante.
Cuando la locura contaba 999.999 el amor aun no había encontrado sitio para esconderse, pues todo lo encontraba ocupado ... Hasta que divisó un rosal y enternecido decidió esconderse entre sus flores.
Un millón contó la locura y comenzó a buscar.
La primera en aparecer fue la pereza, a sólo tres pasos detrás de una piedra. Después escuchó a la fe hablando con Dios en el cielo con convicción, y la pasión y el deseo los sintió en el vibrar de los volcanes.
En un descuido encontró a la envidia y claro pudo deducir donde estaba el triunfo.
Al egoísmo no tuvo ni que buscarlo: el solito salió disparado de su escondite, que había resultado ser un nido de avispas. De tanto caminar sintió sed y al acercarse al lago descubrió a la belleza. Con la duda, resultó más fácil todavía, pues la encontró sentada sobre una cerca, sin decidir aun de que lado esconderse. Así fue encontrando a todos, al talento entre la hierba fresca, a la angustia en una oscura cueva, a la mentira detrás del arcoiris (mentira , si estaba en el fondo del mar) y hasta al olvido que ya se había olvidado que estaba jugando a las escondidas.
Pero sólo el amor no aparecía en ningún sitio. La locura buscó detrás de cada árbol, bajo cada arroyito del planeta, en cada cima de las montañas y cuando estaba al darse por vencida, divisó un rosal y pensó: el amor como siempre tan cursi, seguro se escondió entre las rosas. Tomó una horquilla y comenzó a mover unas ramas, cuando de pronto un doloroso grito se escuchó.
Las espinas habían herido en los ojos al amor. la locura no sabía que hacer para disculparse: lloró, rogó, imploró, pidió perdón y hasta prometió ser su lazarillo.
Desde entonces, desde que por primera vez se jugó en la tierra a las escondidas, el amor es ciego y la locura siempre lo acompaña.

author anonimo, tomado de internet:


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