Danger Signs in Venezuela

May 10, 2015 | | Say something

Venezuela is important to the United States in at least three ways: oil, democracy, and antidrug efforts, and threats to all of these have U.S. national security officials concerned. Those threats center around one man: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Fr’as, a tough former army paratrooper and coup plotter who has been twice democratically elected, yet […more]

Woodworking Made Easy: Using A Router Table

Apr 25, 2015 | | Say something

Who says woodworking can be difficult? Right. There are some who actually thinks so. But if you have that woodworking skill already, then make the router table be on the top of your list to purchase.
A router table is a stationary woodworking machine in which a vertical spindle protrudes from the machine table and can be spun up to more than 20,000 rpm. You may attach different cutter heads at the spindle according to the design you desire. Yes, it’s going to be all worth it. It is easy to set up, it is easy to learn and it can provide endless functionality that your ideals for wood designs can be a reality.
RouterLiftBut before discussing some benefits that this router table can give you, here are some safety tips first when using it:
Safety Tips:
• Use safety glasses when working. You really do not want the dust or some bits of wood to go into your eyes. Better gear yourself with safety glasses for your own protection.
• Use a good headset. Yes, the one that is suitable for carpentry to protect your ears from the loud sound it makes while the spindle spins during woodwork.
• Unplug from the socket whenever necessary. Router table switches are very sensitive that it easily turn on and off so make sure whenever you are making adjustments like changing cutting heads or still setting up, make sure that the machine is unplugged to avoid untoward accidents.
Now that the safety tips are laid out, familiarize all the parts of the router table including all the materials that go with it so you can easily identify what to use when you need to work on a specific project.
The Basics of Using a Router Table
1. Install the desired router bit.
a. Lock the shank.
b. Drop the bit into the mounting plate
c. Pull back a little and tighten to hold the bit in place
d. Adjust the height of the bit according to your desired measurement.
2. Adjust the clearance on the fence. Screw it tight.
3. Adjust the position of the fence. Align the bearing to both sides of the fence.
4. Feed the wood from the right side of the fence. The bit spins from the left to right direction so the one that “bites the wood” goes against it. Use a push block to safely feed the wood into the spindle. (The edges of the push block should be at right angles)
5. Turn on the machine and start working with the edges of the wood. Let the wood simply pass through the spinning bits then as soon as it passes through, the wood is carved exactly according to how you desired it!
You will be amazed on how these router tables works. It can perfectly carve woods that bare hands would be dangerous and almost impossible to do in just a nick of time. Here are other woodworks that table routers specialize:
• Pattern Work
• Cutting Grooves and Cuts
• Raised Panel Doors, and many more!
Be excited to what this fantastic machine can do for you and more. There are varied designs from these router table reviews that can fit your budget, needs and skills in doing woodwork. Go and get one now.

The Cuban primary

Apr 19, 2015 | | Say something

As the campaign of Walter Mondale and Gary Hart–one victorious, the other more and more reconciled to defeat–wound their several ways to San Francisco (see “Something Old and Something New,” by Richard Brookhiser, p. 24), the very different campaign of Jesse Jackson headed for Panama, El Salvador, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

The itinerary was significant. It was once supposed by many observers that Jackson was running not for the nomination, which was plainly beyond his grasp, but for the symbolic role of Number One Black–the spokesman and broker for blacks within American politics. That was indeed the case. But Jackson, it is clear, also has another goal: to become a transnational Third World Force, with his own private foreign policy. So the campaign that took off with Lieutenant Goodman’s return from Syria–a favor to Jackson by pro-Soviet Third World friends–ended with hero’s welcomes in Cuba and Nicaragua.

The ostensible purpose of the trip was to launch what Jackson called a “moral offensive.” A great believer in personal diplomacy (particularly when conducted by his own person), Jackson warned that a general Central American war loomed in the fall unless tensions could be resolved now, and his trip was intended to lessen those tensions through his mediation.

This, the diplomatic component of the trip, was a failure. None of the leaders with whom Jackson conferred proposed anything different from what they have offered many times before. The foreign ministers of the Contadora countries (Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama), who were originally on the schedule, did not meet him. The political front men for the Salvadoran guerrillas, who have sat out the war in Panama City, used him as an occasion for yet another press conference. El Salvador’s President Duarte, in a joint appearance, assured Jackson that he would take his ideas to the Salvadoran people (translation: Nice to see you, Jesse, now we’ll do this our own way). Fidel Castro reached into his capacious jails and doled out a few dozen prisoners, much as lesser hosts pass out cigars. Concerning the prisoner maneuver, the New York Times reported a rich detail, half Solzhenitsyn, half Evelyn Waugh. Before Jackson visited the Havana jail, the inmates were instructed to play baseball–an exercise known as the “visitors’ game,” since a VIP visit is the only circumstance under which it is allowed. But since Jackson showed up his customary hour or two late, the prisoners had to play seventy innings.


That was diplomacy. But there was also talk. Here Jackson, according to his Third World lights, succeeded spectacularly. His rhetoric was strictly out of the General Assembly, or the last meeting of the Non-Aligned. Laying a wreath on the tomb of Omar

Torrijos, he noted that the Panama Canal Zone had been a “burden of shame and pain on the people of Panama,” characterized by the “worst dimensions of American segregation and South African apartheid.” He visited Cuba’s Isle of Youth, an indoctrination center for children from the African countries in which Castro keeps soldiers, and called it “one of the most magnificent expressions of God in the world today.” He ended one Cuban speech, at the University of Havana, with the peroration, “Long live Cuba! Long live the United States! Long live President Castro! Long live in Martin Luther King [twice]! Long live Che Guevara! Long live Patrice Lumumba!”; another, at a Methodist church, with the cry, “Hold on, Cuba! Hold on, Castro! Hold on, Nicaragua!” (the recessional was “We Shall Overcome”). He told the Nicaraguan Council of States, a rubber-stamp parliament of Sandinista toadies, that the United States had no grounds for presumption, since, although we had a Declaration of Independence in 1776, we didn’t elect a President until 1789: “The gap between General Washington and President Washington was 13 years.”

This grotesque blizzard was not some fluke; it has been a long time coming. The nonsense about Washington has been a part of the Jackson spiel for months (hasn’t anyone in his entourage heard of the Articles of Confederation?). On the eve of the New York primary, Jackson cited Sekou Toure and Kwame Nkrumah as forerunners. His wife preceded him to Nicaragua, and his Syrian connection goes back to 1979.

It is also possible to see in Jackson’s Third Worldism an older strain of thought–one of three responses to the post-Civil War situation of American blacks. Booker T. Washington preached the gospel of hard work, from the bottom up if necessary. W. E. B. Du Bois argued that black advancement could only come after serious social change–a conclusion that ultimately led him into the Communist Party. Marcus Garvey, the most exotic of the three, expounded Pan-Africanism, a kind of crackpot racial romanticism. Jackson’s career has been seen mostly as a mixture of Washington and Du Bois–the latter, obviously, in his demands for government action; the former also, in his belief in education and self-help. Perhaps what we are now witnessing is a Garvey gene, with a pro-Communist mutation. Whatever it is, it doesn’t have much to do with American politics. Jackson shouldn’t give up–Sekou Toure’s old job is open, and Castro isn’t immortal.

Ms. Captivity

Apr 12, 2015 | | Say something

Picture this: a prison camp in Siberia with 2,000 inmates, twenty miles outside of Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia. The women wake at 5:45 for eight hours of sewing police uniforms in the textile factory They walk across the yard, wrapped for the cold in wool as drab and gray as the sky. There’s no hot water. They subsist on a diet of mashed peas and bread.

Now jump to this: an auditorium filled with two hundred people. Balloons decorate the stage. The steps to the podium are newly carpeted. It’s the same camp, but during the annual Miss Spring contest. Behind the scenes, nine women, one selected by each cell block anxiously prepare. For round one, the Greek Goddess, the camp’s expert seamstresses turn their candidate into Mata Hari. Her bare skin shows above her low slung gold skirt; her breasts are barely covered with red and pink; her arms are wrapped in golden straps. In the Flower Round, another contestant wears a gown, again fashioned by her whole block made of hundreds of white cloth flowers, each with a delicate yellow-and-green center. Her glittery makeup, pearls, and white shoes evoke Miss America, but her train speaks of weddings, New Year’s floats, Cirque de Soleil.

Should feminists around the world shake in their boots?

After all, in 1968, in one of the first actions of US feminism’s second wave, protesters gathered in Atlantic City to picket the Miss America pageant and the false icons of beauty it presented. As some unfurled banners reading “Women’s Liberation” inside the hall, others created street theatre outside, crowning a sheep and calling for the end to the oppression of women that the pageant made manifest. Carol Hanisch, who coined the phrase, “the personal is political,” led the demonstrators in tossing what she called “instruments of female torture”-high heels, nylons, girdles, corsets, hair curlers, and false eyelashes–into a Freedom Trash Can. In a 2003 radio interview, Hanish credited fellow demonstrator Roz Baxandall with coming up with the action’s best slogan: “Every day in awoman’s life is a walking Miss America contest.”

However, in Siberian Camp UF-91/9, a woman’s day is anything but a beauty contest. There, dressing up and entering the world of the imagination can be treasured opportunities, respites from the rules and scarcity that usually dominate her life. Although the cliched titles and the concepts of women the pageants promote may seem bizarre to those of us on the outside, almost any activity, when you take it behind bars, acquires a new significance.

The first prison beauty pageant in Siberia took place in 2000, the brainchild of an inmate. It began simply, with costumes created from everyday objects such as plastic bags and fake flowers. These days, the women work together for months before the pageant, which is hardly the competitive, individualistic event implied by the word “contest.” Their interpretations of the themes assigned by the prison administration, such as Miss Spring, Miss Charm, and Miss Grace, are liberating and even, in some cases, downright subversive. Consider the irony of portraying an inmate as a pure lily with giant white calla spathes around her head, her slicked-back hair highlighting the flower’s center, her trim body undulating sensually to form the stem.

As a woman who grew up in the sixties, I used to consider endorsing any sort of beauty contest inconceivable–but that was before I saw two short documentaries about the pageants at Camp UF-91/9, The Contest, produced by the Polish journalist Zygmunt Dzieciolowski, and Miss Gulag, produced by Neihausen-Yatskova and Vodar Films. They show the contenders taking the runway by storm, cheered on by their peers, in a parody of the stale rigidity and lack of sexuality of traditional pageants. “You can be free anywhere, even in a dark cell,” says one contestant, referring to her pageant experience. In The Contest, one woman adds a musical number to the pageant’s dress-up proceedings, packaging herself as a cabaret singer a la Sally Bowles. Commenting on her performance, Dzieciolowski says, “The brilliance in the women’s handiwork is the opposite of the mass production of the factory.”

Beauty pageants are now widespread in Russian prisons. Make up, gifts for the unit, and credits toward early release are the prizes. In Kyrgyzstan, the first contest behind bars in 2005 was juried by a group led by Tursunbai Bakir-uulu, the Kyrgyz human rights ombudsperson. He brought the competitors soap, detergents, booklets on legal issues, and stationary, and the winner received a television set, presumably to watch when she got out.

Yet, even though women themselves originated the pageants, it’s fair to wonder whether the wardens are promoting them for public relations purposes, to boost the idea of a new Russia, devoid of unbearable gulags. At the screening of Miss Gulag I attended this summer in Baltimore, the Russian-American director Irina Yatskova said that in her experience, the prison was still excruciatingly bleak. Although she was allowed to film it, her crew had to sign forms saying they would stick within physical boundaries determined by the camp: no filming anywhere but in approved areas. If they strayed, they’d find themselves in UF-9 1/9, prisoners instead of observers.

Beauty pageants are proliferating behind bars. They’ve been held all over the world: in Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Peru, Venezuela, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Lithuania, and the US. Prison blogger Yraida, whose posted address in 2005 was a Florida federal prison camp, wrote that during the camp’s Hispanic Heritage celebrations in September and October, 21 female prisoners, one to represent each Latin country, were selected to compete for the title of Miss Hispanic. Yraida posted a picture showing the costumes, “dresses designed and made by other prisoners … just gorgeous, long gowns with shoulderless backs … open midsection dresses with prison-made earrings and tiaras.” Like her Russian counterpart, she feels that the pageant offers inmates some measure of freedom.

Although when I contacted the Florida federal prison camp, administrators denied that beauty contests ever take place inside, Yraida described how, in her federal prison experience, Black History Month and the Fourth of July were also celebrated with glorious pageants.

13317954062Administrators who endorse the contests claim that they “increase self-esteem.” I have always winced at that term, perhaps because it seems too simplistic, a catchall. According to the BBC News, warden Wanini Kireri of Lang’ata, the largest women’s prison in Kenya, organized a pageant for exactly that reason: to boost her charges’ self-confidence. She had read an article about a pageant behind bars, and sought help from a local beauty college to dress the women in African designs and make them up for the contest. She said, “When I came to Lang’ata, I wanted to make a change. I did not want to get into the usual routine.” The 26-year-old who became Miss Lang’ata exclaimed, “I feel good. I feel excited. Winning the pageant will change my life.” After serving her sentence, she planned to take a hairdressing, modeling, and beauty course offered by the school that helped with the pageant. After that, she said, she might attend college.

Critics might justifiably wonder if hairdressing and modeling courses can really change a prisoner’s life. But research shows that there is more at stake than beauty worship. Some pageants aim to train women so they get jobs upon release. The unemployment rate of women in Russia is seventy percent. According to Human Rights Watch, in Kenya women make up eighty percent of the agricultural labor force and provide sixty percent of farm income, yet they own only five percent of the land. For a Kenyan prisoner, a beauty school education may mean survival. Those who receive such opportunities may feel more confident in their abilities to achieve in other arenas, thus Miss Lang’ata’s intention to “go to university” not insignificant, since female enrollment in universities is only thirty percent, according to Akili Dada, a nonprofit organization that supports Kenyan girls and women. In addition, it is well known that the more education a prisoner has, the less likely she is to return tocrime.

In Latin America, reporters have said that beauty is a “national obsession.” According to USA Today writer Toby Muse, in Colombia, “[a]nnual telecasts of the Miss World and Miss Universe competitions draw ratings on par with World Cup soccer matches.” Women prisoners in Brazil and Colombia, like those in Kenya, participate in pageants to get time off their sentences, cash awards, or in some cases the chance to go to modeling school.

Rebecca Roth is a US citizen who has been incarcerated since February 2006 in the Puente Grande women’s penitentiary in Mexico, where those arrested but not convicted can be held for years. She lives in the same cell with sentenced women. Cockroaches are not uncommon. Almost fifty, Roth came of age when questions about women’s roles were freely in the air. She confirms the observation of Susan Dworkin, the author of Miss America, 1945: Bess Myerson and the Year That Changed Our Lives, that any beauty pageant has a “dark underbelly.” Roth writes in an e-mail, “Even in the slammer women flirt with the male judges in order to gain favor.” Contestants, many of whom are over fifty, some of whom cannot read or write and can barely sign their names, “practiced and practiced,” says Roth, going over “their promenades, dance routines, and beauty pageant smiles.” The women rehearsed musical numbers to “New York, New York,” complete with “styrofoam top hats that we painted black with white bands,” and to “Brazil.” “The ‘Brazil’ girls were given multicolor tulle carioca skirts that tied on with colored bias tape and felt eye masks that they were told to decorate with sequins,” says Roth. (Note that the prisoners were “told” to decorate.) “My moment of truth came where I realized the people in front of me were going to decide if I was queen material based on a dance routine and a walk in my tight blue dress,” she says.

Still, she feels it was “absolutely worth it” to take part in Queen of the Prison, a contest held yearly for prisoners over age 36, because of “the additional liberty from the overcrowded cellblock after 6:00 PM curfew.” For their efforts, participants were allowed to stay outside, sometimes until 8:00 or 9:00 pm. To gain any kind of liberty is precious when a life behind bars is defined, as Jean Harris says of her experience in New York’s Bedford Hills, as having doors opened for you “ninety times a day.” Roth’s sister, who has moved to be near her in Mexico, writes that this year, Rebecca found some freedom in sewing and designing costumes for the pageant.

Maricopa County JailCertainly some pageants exploit far more than they support. Questionable ones include a “voluntary” singing competition in Maricopa County, Arizona. The prison-based American Idol-like contest is run by the controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio, also known for forcing male prisoners to wear pink underwear, housing prisoners in tents in the desert, and bringing back chain gangs. A sleezy website called “Iowahawk” posts mug shots of women behind bars and, in a nearly pornographic announcement, encourages readers to vote for their favorite “Hoosegow Honey 2007.” These are the kinds of exploitative pageants that led Carol Hanisch and other women’s liberationists of the sixties to picket Miss America.

Nevertheless, prison beauty pageants also demonstrate the immense resourcefulness of women who are locked-up, who live day-in and day-out in cramped spaces, far from their children and other loved ones, without much to cheer about in their lives. During the contests, prisoners grab a momentary respite from conditions that range from the austere to the intolerable; they use their creativity and even gain a leg-up upon release. The women, even if not the pageants, broadcast loudly, with style and pizzazz, that beauty does not have to die in prison.

Venezuela Discuss Oil

Apr 7, 2015 | | Say something

The Government will start purchasing crude oil from Venezuela at concessionary rates once implementation of a Joint Commission for Cooperation comes into force, Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Raphael Tuju says.

Tuju said the oil deal will be for six years, to be renewed automatically for a similar period.

The Venezuelean government will also assist Kenya in oil exploration in specific areas which are believed to have oil deposits, said Tuju.

TUJU-RAPHAELThe minister made the announcement in Caracas, Venzuela, last week during the closing session of Kenya-Venezuela deliberations on the main areas of cooperation in the Joint Commission.

He was leading a Kenyan delegation to the first meeting of ‘political mechanism for political consultation and agreement between Kenya and Venezuela‘. It comprised Energy minister, Mr Kiraitu Murungi, Sports, Culture and Social Services minister, Mr Maina Kamanda, Energy Permanent Secretary Mr Patrick Nyoike, the head of the American Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Chepsogol and technical staff from various ministries.

In separate talks with the Venezuela Foreign minister, Mr Nicolas Maduro Moros, Tuju said Kenya is refocusing its relations with countries in the Middle East, China and Latin America in the spirit of the South – South Cooperation.

“We opened an embassy in Brazil this year and we are ready to appoint an Honorary Counsel in Venezuela by the end of the year,” he said.

Moros observed that the Kenyan delegation was the first from the Eastern part of Africa. He expressed hope that more African Countries will be willing to do business with his country after the Africa Summit is held in Caracas next year. All African heads of state have been invited to the meeting.

Tuju praised the Venzuela government for its ability to harness the country’s natural resources without foreign interference. Kenya is pursuing a similar path by financing 93 per cent of its national Budget from internal sources, he noted.

Besides oil, other areas of cooperation which were agreed upon, include economic, agricultural, social cultural, environmental, education, health and tourism.

Tuju stimulated officials from both counties to sustain the momentum generated during the meetings by carrying out the necessary follow- through actions in a bid to concretise the JCC agreements.