Friday, September 28, 2012

12-09-28 Hello World!

Friday, September 28 @ 23:28 : Fontana, California, US
Friday, September 28 @ 23:25 : United Kingdom, GB
Friday, September 28 @ 21:56 : Denver, Colorado, US
Friday, September 28 @ 20:20 : Madrid, ES
Friday, September 28 @ 19:40 : San Ysidro, California, US
Friday, September 28 @ 19:15 : Leyland, GB
Friday, September 28 @ 19:02 : Long Beach, California, US
Friday, September 28 @ 18:12 : Greenwich, Connecticut, US
Friday, September 28 @ 17:50 : New York, New York, US

12-09-28 Same old, same old - Vote counting company tied to Romney

The idea of "privatizing" electronic systems that are at the core of civil society, such as electronic voting machines in the US (below), case management systems of the courts (the Los Angeles based Sustain, now implemented in 11 states), or the sole certifying authority for electronic signatures (ComSign, LTD, Israel), is beyond belief...


Vote counting company tied to Romney

by Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis

Several Tanker trucks full of political ink have been spilled on Mitt Romney's tenure as a vulture capitalist at Bain Capital. A more important story, however, is the fact that Bain alumni, now raising big money as Romney bundlers are also in the electronic voting machine business. This appears to be a repeat of the the infamous former CEO of Diebold Wally O'Dell, who raised money for Bush while his company supplied voting machines and election management software in the 2004 election.  

12-09-28 Dispatch de Girona: The Monrachy, the Catholic Church, and the Catalan quest for independence

King Juan Carlos is willingly subjecting himself to humiliation, while he could go on safari instead.  As was the case in 1981, he may be key to containing the military under crisis related to the Catalan quest for independence.  One can only hope that under Benedict XVI the Catholic Church will not fail the test.

Girona,  September 28 – the train from Barcelona to Girona is timely and comfortable.   On the way, we pass small towns and villages.  Invariably, houses that face the tracks are decorated with Catalan flags.
The daily newspapers indicate that yesterday, King Juan Carlos was still in Barcelona, most of it spent with President/”President” Artur Mas, but a single amicable joint photographs of the two is yet to emerge.
Their day started in the Catalan parliament, where the final vote on the November referendum was 84 in favor, 21 opposed, and 26 abstained.  From there the King and the President/”President” went to the Barcelona harbor, for the inauguration of a new port.  En route, the two were photographed, seated side by side in the front of the large transit vehicle.  Artur Mas was smiling ear to ear, the King, sulky, was looking out of the window.
At the Barcelona port, an attempt was made to produce an official group photo, which ended up in embarrassment, reported as a breach of protocol.  The end product is a photo, where the representative of China (which sponsored the new Barcelona port) in the center, the President/”President” on the far right, and the King on the far left, both of them trying to resolve the embarrassment.


There is no doubt that the King is subjecting himself to unnecessary humiliation.  He could have just as well stayed in Madrid, or gone on another safari in Africa.
One should not underestimate King Juan Carlos, regardless of some unfortunate recent remarks regarding the Catalan quest for independence.  After all, his brave stand was key to defeating the fascist military coup of 1981.
The Catholic Church in Spain appears much closer to the military than to the civilian government, historically and also today, as evidenced by the bizarre sitting arrangement last Sunday, during the mass for La Merce’, where Artur Mas was besieged by senior members of the fascist Associacion Militar.  On the other hand, the King and the Catholic Church in Barcelona appear on amicable terms, as seen most recently earlier this week, on the occasion of the commemorative ceremony of one of the old monasteries in Barcelona.
As one gets closer to Girona, the landscape increasingly resembles the countryside of Provence or Toscana. Rolling hills that are carpeted with small fields of various crops, as opposed to the never ending corn fields of the American Midwest.  In Catalonia, in contrast with Provence and Toscana, the landscape is also sprinkled with industrial facilities. (according to newspapers, the Catalan economy is greater than that of Austria!)
Girona itself is located on a fork of the Rio Ter, in what used to be a major port, with a strategically positioned hill above it, which were all protected by strong walls since Roman times, some still standing. Rio Ter itself is comparable in size to the Amsterdam canals, and the buildings on its banks also resemble the old mercantile houses in Amsterdam.
Rio Ter, Girona, and canal in Amsterdam     
The narrow historic streets and alleys in Girona are decorated with Catalan flags.
Placa de Independencia, a major public space,  is a modest copy of the Placa Reial in Barcelona. Here too, there is a temporary stage built, with a large screen, and a band is preparing for tonight’s public concert and screening, part of the Girona film festival.
Girona was a center of Convivencia in the Middle Ages.  That era was eroded over centuries, but came to its bitter end with the institution of the Spanish Inquisition under Queen Isabella Catolica.

In Spain and other Catholic nations,  the Dominican Order played a key role in the Inquisition.  Therefore, the fate of the Dominican monateries can be viewed as an indicator of the fight of the People against oppression.

As is the case in numerous other medieval cities in Italy, France, and Spain, the Dominican compound in Girona is large, fortified, and matches or exceeds the cathedral in its position at the top of the hill.  It dates back to the 12th Century.
The main building remaining today is the large chapel.  It is denuded of any religious insignia, no cross, no stained glass windows.  It is locked up, and a small sign in the front identifies it as a “Hall” of the adjacent 400 year old University of Girona.
The convent part of the compound is falling apart, and is in the midst of a costly conservation project.  In contrast with other conservation projects in Girona, it is funded by the Spanish government, not the Catalan, says a large sign.  The coat of arms of the Spanish government on the sign in defaced by graffiti.
A few years back, I was visiting Toledo for a conference.  The large, fortified Dominican compound there is in pristine conditions.  The opening session of the conference, including a welcome speech by the Spanish Minster of Health, was conducted in a functional chapel in the compound, which appeared as an exotic, but bizarre choice of the organizers.

Museo della Tortura, near the ruined Dominican monastery in San Gimignano, Toscana
San Gimignano, Toscana, is another medieval walled city, almost entirely intact. At one time it was the hometown of the Dominican priest Savonarola, later the religious fanatic tyrant of Firenze, where with help from youth gangs he enforced "bonfires of the vanities", including musical instruments, theatrical devices, immodest clothing...  The Dominican Monastery in San Gimignano is in ruins, unmarked.  Right next to it is Museo della Tortura…
In one of the villages above Nice, Provence, not sure if it was Saint-Maurice, Saint-Sylvestre, or one of the other picturesque nearby villages, I found some years ago an unexpected large green commons in the middle of the village.  A small sign in one corner said: Here stood the Dominican monastery, raised to the ground by Napoleon in 1803.
The current Pope, Benedict XV I, as Cardinal Ratzinger, headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the historic office of the Inquisition.
One must wonder if conduct of the Catholic church, in case Spain enters a military-civil crisis, related to the Catalan quest for independence, would have been different had John Paul II still been at the helm.  Under John Paul II, with gracious help from then US Ambassador to the Vatican Lindy Boggs, I gained access for research to 500 years old archives of the Catholic Church in Toscana, which had never been opened to the public before.