Archive for June, 2010

Futbol Diplomacy

Washington, DC, the international city that it is, is a seething petri dish in the World Cup fever laboratory. Locales include Lucky Bar for the sad South Korean loss, and both Oakwood Residences with State Dept friends and the rooftop of Local 16 for the even sadder USA loss to Ghana.

U.S. in a Migrant’s Age

Jason DeParle’s article in the Sunday, June 27th NYT’s struck a note this morning, complementing the chord (or discord) that is gaining in strength like so many vuvuzelas in South Africa. He writes,

“As heirs to an immigrant past, Americans may have an edge in a migrants’ age. As contentious as the issue is here, the Americans’ capacity to absorb immigrants remains the envy of many Europeans (including those not inclined to envy Americans). Still, today’s challenges differ from those of the (mythologized) past. At least five differences set this age apart and amplify migration’s effects.”

I wish I had something to bring to the table that was neither a cliche statement on the modern composition of the United States as an immigrant nation or that has not yet been said, but I can certainly that the effect on our society, economy and every other aspect of our lives from immigration becomes more obvious to me each day.

Xenophobes in every county are becoming more vocal about guarding what they have from “outsiders.” The fallacy of these arguments should go without saying, but it is evident that actions, such as Arizona’s destructive new law, speak more loudly than rational thought. A fear of mine is that America will no longer be a place of final destination, a society that people around the world wish to join. That day will be the last day of a great America.

A key question, as noted by DeParle, is the effects of transnationalism on the sustainability of a nation state that experiences a high degree of transnational movement/immigration. A society has a lot to gain from sharing a common language, a common understanding of law and justice, a standardized education that, theoretically, puts the masses on an equal footing. A transnational world is, indeed, an intriguing and even exciting concept, one driven by technology and the freedom of people and money to move across physical and political boundaries; but what would be the destructive consequences?

Getting the Job Done

Leaders and their administrations’ plans for putting policy into practice happen not when new laws are passed or new proclamations made but when the ranks of the bureaucracy are filled with enough like minded managers and leaders that a critical mass is reached.

Political appointees so far under the Obama administration.

Dudus: caught

Suspected Drug Lord Taken in Jamaica

Michael Kamber for The New York Times
In May, Jamaican soldiers patrolled the streets of Denham, a neighborhood in Kingston, where fighting took place over several days.

Published: June 22, 2010
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CloseLinkedinDiggMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink MEXICO CITY — A reputed gang leader wanted in the United States on gun and drug charges was taken into custody by Jamaican authorities on Tuesday as the furious search for him, which set off violent clashes in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, entered its second month.

Times Topic: Christopher Coke

Jamaica Constabulary Force, via Reuters
Christopher Coke
Owen Ellington, commissioner of the police, the Jamaican Constabulary Force, later told reporters that the reputed gang leader, Christopher Coke, had been peacefully taken into custody while in a vehicle with the Rev. Al Miller, an evangelical preacher who helped arrange the recent surrender of Mr. Coke’s brother and sister.

Mr. Miller told reporters that Mr. Coke had contacted him Tuesday and asked for help in turning himself in at the American Embassy in Kingston. The two men were en route to the embassy when the police stopped the car and arrested Mr. Coke, he said. Mr. Coke is willing to forgo an extradition hearing and face trial in the United States, said Mr. Miller, of the nondenominational Whole Life Ministry.

Although Reverend Miller was released at the scene, Mr. Ellington later called on him to turn himself in to the authorities for questioning.

“I would like to appeal to the family, friends and sympathizers of Christopher Coke to remain calm and to allow the law to take its course,” Mr. Ellington said. “I would also like to reassure the citizens of Jamaica that the situation remains normal, there is no need for alarm and they can get about their business in the usual way.”

Witnesses outside a police station in St. Catherine Parish said Mr. Coke was wearing a bulletproof vest, and was seen being escorted to a helicopter.

Mr. Coke’s legal predicament strained relations between Jamaica and the United States and led to dozens of deaths over several days in late May as Jamaican security forces forced their way into Tivoli Gardens, the poor neighborhood that Mr. Coke controlled, in a futile effort to apprehend him.

Known as Dudus,Short Man and President, Mr. Coke, 42, was indicted last August in New York on charges that he had controlled an international drug ring from his Kingston stronghold. Prosecutors say Mr. Coke’s confederates in New York sent him part of their drug proceeds and shipped guns to him that he used to bolster his authority.

Mr. Coke’s case shed light on the longstanding practice in Jamaica of politicians and gang leaders sharing power, for the benefit of both. The gang leaders help turn out the vote at election time. In exchange, they are afforded government contracts for various jobs and protection from the law.

Mr. Coke’s father was a gang leader with considerable influence in the Jamaican Labour Party. The son followed in his footsteps as leader of the so-called Shower Posse, law enforcement officials said. When Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who represents Tivoli Gardens in Parliament, was elected in 2007, Mr. Coke’s influence seemed to grow and his business interests, including an entertainment company and a construction company, received sizable government backing.

But the indictment from the United States interrupted the arrangement.

At first, Mr. Golding fought the extradition, arguing that it was based on flawed evidence. The United States responded furiously. “Jamaica’s delay in processing the U.S. extradition request for a major suspected drug and firearms trafficker with reported ties to the ruling party highlights the potential depth of corruption in the government,” said a State Department counternarcotics report released in March.

But when criticism grew to the point that Mr. Golding’s government hung in the balance, he backed down and agreed to send Mr. Coke to New York.

That is when Mr. Coke’s backers began barricading streets and wielding weapons to keep the police and soldiers at bay in Tivoli Gardens, leading to one of the most violent episodes in the country’s recent history. Jamaican security officials were accused of using excessive force in their search for Mr. Coke, resulting in dozens of deaths that have not been not fully explained.

Marc Lacey reported from Mexico City, and Kareem Fahim from New York. Ross Sheil contributed reporting from Kingston, Jamaica.

Indonesian Magic, Big Business

I was always fascinated by the mysterious blending of Islam and traditional Indonesian religions on the island of Java. It played in the politics, the art, and the daily behavior of people I observed and met. Unquestionably a majority Muslim country, Indonesia embraces a spirituality that places a belief in and conversational relationship with nature, writ large, as a focus of daily life.

This is a great video from the Al Jazeera news service, about how this belief in magic has been turned into big business.

Rock and Roll and Evolution

Jamaican Pigeon

Responses to a news article on Facebook are great examples of that country’s unique brand of English.

From the news site
“The Government of Jamaica says it stands ready to reject a no-confidence motion, which is to be moved against the Prime Minister by the Opposition in Parliament today. The issue topped discussions at the weekly meeting of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) hierarchy in St Andrew last night. According to the Leader of Government Business in the House, Andrew Holness the administration is prepared to respond to the motion in Parliament.”

Some responses:

simple thing that fi brucey …… no way that ago pass lol lol


bwoy, sticky pon Bruce right now. guess the PNP want to bring enough pressure on laborite till dem kick out Bruce. other than fi a senior member take over, a doubt whether any of the younger party members could handle the onslaught from portia an dem afterwards..pnp smell blood in the water right now, nuh look like dem ago let up..