Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

Radio station XEPUR, Cherán, Michoacán

Radio station XEPURRadio is important in rural and less affluent areas of Mexico. A lot of people don't have computers, smart phones (a lot of areas don't have 4G coverage), or televisions. Mexico doesn't have any equivalent of CBC or NPR; the closest thing to it are some university stations. Community radio stations are a new idea, and their numbers are increasing.

There's an alternative form of radio that's been around for 40 years. Mexico's National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (Instituto Nacional Indigenista, or INI) created 21 radio stations, which broadcast in 31 indigenous languages. They are mostly AM and daytime-only. Six of them broadcast in Nahuatl, Mexico's most common indigenous language, spoken by 1.7 million people. Three of them broadcast in Yucatec Maya, spoken by 800,000 people.

Purépecha, spoken by 124,000 people, is way down the list. It is spoken in the highlands of the State of Michoacán, an area which includes Pátzcuaro, Uruapan, and Zamora. Their radio voice is XEPUR, "The Voice of the Purépecha", located in Cherán.

A guide to the Parícutin volcano

I first heard of the Parícutin volcano when I was in elementary school, somewhere around 1960. There was a story about it in one of the weekly news magazines handed out to students. The way the story went was, in 1943, this Mexican farmer went out into his corn field, and smoke started to come out of the ground. The result was a brand new volcano, the only one on this planet that scientists have been able to study starting with the initial eruption.

Like most children my age, I didn't have much of a concept of Mexico, let alone the State of Michoacán. Michoacán is known primarily for the cities of Morelia and Pátzcuaro, monarch butterfly reserves, and narco violence. So, Parícutin wasn't something I was conscious of until I made my first visit to Pátzcuaro and nearby Uruapan in late 2017.

Parícutin last erupted in 1952. It is officially classified as dormant, but contrary to what some local people will tell you, the ground is warm, and steam emissions can be seen.

A US battle against nature in the Galapagos Islands

Sea lions on San Cristóbal Island - photo courtesy of CruiseMapperAn announcement came out on June 12, 2019 that an agreement had been made between the governments of the United States and Ecuador that would allow the US military to extend the runway of the airport on San Cristóbal Island, then use it as a base for AWACS surveillance planes, specifically the Lockheed AP-C3 Orion and the Boeing E-3 Sentry (derived from the 707).

San Cristóbal Island is the easternmost of the Galapagos Islands, and is the second-most populous, with 5,600 people. Like all of the Galapagos Islands, it has a huge population of sea lions, birds, marine iguanas, and tortoises. The airport is one of three in the Galapagos Islands; the other two are Baltra and Puerto Villamil. There are commercial flights to the San Cristóbal airport from Quito, Guayaquil, and Baltra. The runway is 1,900 meters (6,230 feet) long.

The entire Galapagos Islands are an Ecuadorean national park and marine reserve, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. UNESCO has previously expressed concerns about the impact of human activity on San Cristóbal, at the airport in particular. Any expansion of this airport will reduce wildlife habitat, and any increase in air traffic will damage the bird population. Long story short, this is one of the most ecologically sensitive areas on this planet.

The stated purpose of the AWACS planes is "the fight against narco traffic".

Book Review: Tone, Twang, and Taste: A Guitar Memoir, by Pete Kennedy

I first heard the term "Americana music" about four years ago, and it's convenient, because it includes a lot of music I like: folk rock, folk, bluegrass, outlaw country, and Grateful Dead.

When I was first exposed to The Kennedys, I thought of them as a folk rock group, and specifically, a successor to The Byrds, a band that I liked a lot in my youth, and still do. However, "Americana music" appears quite a few times in this book, and during Pete Kennedy's long musical career, he has been in the thick of it. The long list of people he has worked or jammed with includes Emmylou Harris, Chet Atkins, David Bromberg, Charlie Byrd, Roger McGuinn, Dave Carter, Steve Earle, Danny Gatton, Doc Watson, Tom Paxton, and Eric Andersen.

I think that the most important lesson in this book is just how much hard work it takes to be a professional musician like Pete. In addition to the long hours of practice and jamming, he took lessons from Joe Pass and Johnny Smith.

If you've heard the phrase, "life begins at 40", that is about how old he was when he went on his first full-scale tour, with Mary Chapin Carpenter's band. That led to another gig with Nanci Griffith's band, the Blue Moon Orchestra, and ultimately meeting his wife, band mate, and songwriting partner Maura Kennedy.

I'm going to pass along two anecdotes from this book that I especially liked. When he was a teenager, his garage band chipped in and bought a copy of "Are You Experienced?", Jimi Hendrix' first album. After listening to it, they concluded, "this is what we're going to sound like from now on." The drummer said that he was going to have to quit, because he felt that there was no way that he would ever play that well. The rest of the band talked him out of it.

Why I walked away from Daily Kos

Tina EnglerI first thought that something was wrong when comedian Bill Maher was invited to give the keynote address at the University of California Berkeley commencement in December, 2014. A small group of Muslim students there didn't like it, and several articles in Daily Kos took up the "islamophobia" cudgel.

One question you could ask is, if you're not a student, a member of the faculty or staff of UC Berkeley, or even root for their athletic teams, why is their choice of a commencement speaker even any of your business? Another valid question is, what exactly is this "islamophobia" that is a common insult hurled at Daily Kos?

If you were to ask Salman Rushdie about it, he would tell you that the religion of Islam is something to be afraid of. So would the employees of the Charlie Hebdo magazine. And the friends and relatives of people killed in the September 11, 2001 attack. And women forced to wear burqas and put up with all sorts of other restrictions on personal freedom.

Further, Maher has had several Muslim guests on the show in recent years; Maajid Nawaz, Nayyera Haq, Asra Nomani, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Keith Ellison.

This doesn't matter to the Haters. And although the stated objective of Daily Kos is to "elect more and better Democrats", it doesn't matter that Maher contributed a million dollars to the Democrats in 2012, and has committed another million to the Democrats for 2018. I wrote this article in response to the UC Berkeley dustup: Maher spoke at UC Berkeley commencement, world still turning

Two Mexican journalists banned from the US for five years

Hérica Martínez Prado

A resolution by San Miguel Center, PEN International

Endorsed by PEN México

Hérika Martínez Prado and Luis Christian Torres Chávez are Mexican journalists. Sra. Martínez Prado works for the France Press Agency (AFP) and the newspaper El Heraldo de Mexico. Sr. Torres Chávez works for the Xinhua News Agency.

They were working on a story about the detention center for migrant children in Tornillo, TX. On June 18, 2018, they accidentally strayed across the Mexican-US border south of Tornillo while attempting to take pictures of the detention center. This was an understandable mistake. In that area, the border is the Rio Grande, and at the time, the Rio Grande was a dry gravel bed.

Martínez Prado and Torres Chávez were arrested by agents of the US Border Patrol. They were detained for 16 hours, and released after signing a “voluntary deportation” order. They are now banned from entering the US for five years. This is in spite of the fact that both of them had valid B1/B2 Visa Border Crossing Cards; Sra. Martínez’ card was valid through November 11, 2020.

Martínez Prado and Torres Chávez are journalists with jobs to do. As an organization supporting the rights of journalists, the San Miguel de Allende Center of PEN International calls for lifting the travel ban immediately. We also call for an apology to these two journalists from the government of the United States.