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December 30, 2010

Espionage Act: a muzzle for dissent, says Robert Meeropol

Video in two parts; click through for the second.

Democracy Now interviews Robert Meeropol, the younger of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg's two sons, who criticizes the forthcoming prosecution of Julian Assange under the same 1917 Espionage Act that resulted in the senseless deaths of his parents.

I say "senseless" because the espionage trial of the Rosenbergs was clearly a show trial, meant to menace US communists and silence them as the McCarthyite hysteria swept over the country. A previously legal and commonplace political viewpoint would eventually be criminalized; a travesty in a country whose citizens pride themselves on their freedom. I also say "senseless" because the real spy in the case--Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, who worked as a machinist on the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb at Los Alamos and is the source of the secret materials that Ethel and Julius were executed for passing along--testified against his own flesh and blood, and went free. And I also say "senseless" because, ultimately, the materials passed on by Julius Rosenberg to the Soviets were of little worth to them. They already had their own nuclear-weapons program well underway, and the crude drawings of David Greenglass (which carried few technical specifics and were not to scale) were not an infallible recipe for a plutonium bomb. At most, those drawings simply showed them how the Los Alamos scientists had constructed the implosion lenses for the device. Today, in fact, all the information that David Greenglass took down and Julius Rosenberg passed along is readily available to the public in many sources; the best is Richard Rhodes's book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

The Rosenberg boys were adopted shortly before their parents' execution by Abel Meeropol and his wife. They took their adoptive parents' surname as protection against the media-driven lynching of anyone unfortunate enough to be related--or simply called Rosenberg. Meeropol is an interesting personage in his own right; he is the author of this song, made famous by Billie Holliday:

An anti-lynching, anti-racist song, the first big hit of its kind, and considered the most influential song of the 20th century. "I wrote 'Strange Fruit'," said Meeropol, "because I hate lynching, and I hate injustice, and I hate the people who perpetuate it." Abel Meeropol was, like the Rosenbergs, a communist, a strong advocate of civil rights, and an anti-fascist. He undoubtedly taught his adopted sons to stand up for what was right, and they do so to this day--denouncing the same senseless hypocrisy that resulted in the deaths of their parents.

December 27, 2010

Witnesses of Jehovah

An hour-long documentary that takes a look at the secretive, highly profitable Watchtower Society from within. Ex-JWs and former members of the governing body reveal the Orwellian cult's dirty secrets--among them, an Elmer Gantry-like leader who ruled from 1917 into the 1940s from a princely estate in San Diego, and the continual, embarrassing resetting of the date at which Armageddon is supposed to occur, according to the Watchtower Society. Most heartbreaking is the way this organization, which claims to "bring families together", actually drives people apart, by encouraging them to shun unbelievers, the apostates and the disfellowshipped, even among their own blood relatives.

And of course, speaking of blood, there's that insanity about transfusions...which, should any JW disobey, becomes immediately and hideously clear. Calling down hateful death wishes upon the disobedient over a simple, life-saving procedure is highly unchristian, but it's exactly the sort of thing one can expect from the brainwashed members of this cult--or any other right-wing cult, come to that. For an organization that makes much of the suffering, persecution and martyrdom of its members, the Watchtower Society does shockingly little--often nothing--to protect them, and indeed, it shoves them into harm's way quite deliberately, exposing them to all manner of scorn, ridicule, strife, and even grave physical danger. And all this in the name of God's love...

The style of this documentary is very dated and wooden, with a lot of cartoons eerily reminiscent of Jack Chick tracts; it's aimed predominantly at Christian ex-JWs, with a view to religious conversion. Nevertheless, the history and the facts it presents speak for themselves. (You may smile, as I did, when you see the part about how the JWs used to picket outside of churches, claiming that religion was a racket. Their own, of course, was excluded from that designation!)

I would also encourage you to read James Kostelniuk's book, Wolves Among Sheep, which details how the Watchtower Society broke up his own family, and indirectly caused the murder of his first wife, Kim, who divorced him and drove a wedge between him and their two children (who were also murdered) for not being faithful and unquestioning enough. It, too, goes into intimate detail about the shocking hypocrisy of the Watchtower Society and its absolute control over every detail of the lives of its "other sheep".

It is truly worth asking oneself whether any god worth worshipping would demand that his followers turn themselves inside out for an organization which purports to be God's intermediary on Earth, but seems clearly more bent on turning it into a living hell for its faithful.

December 8, 2010

In which we "smear" Julian Assange's accuser

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Yesterday, Julian Assange turned himself in to British authorities for extradition to Sweden, to face a number of sexual-assault charges. Since it's for the court to determine whether or not he actually is guilty as charged, let's wait to see how that shakes out. Meanwhile, I'll address some things that started nagging at me as soon as the first feminist analyses of the situation started cropping up on Twitter yesterday.

It's pretty clear to me that battle lines are being drawn in this whole kerfuffle. The discourse has shifted from Wikileaks and Cablegate to Winkyleaks and Condomgate. And it's clear, too, that women are being used--and abused--atrociously here. No, I'm not talking about Julian Assange and what he's alleged to have done to those two women. I'm talking about feminists as a whole; we are being made into inadvertent pawns in the battle over freedom of information. And it seems to me that we're being expected to turn out against Assange--and by extension, against Wikileaks.

I've noted here before that condomless sex, while prosecutable, is not a jailing offence in Sweden; you pay a fine of a few hundred dollars, and that's it. But this case is strange, owing to the high international profile of the accused: the sex charges were pressed months ago, then dropped, and then reinstated. Awfully inconsistent prosecution for an offence generally remedied by a simple fine! And weirdest of all, why is the United States now looking to get involved, when none of the alleged offences happened on their soil? It seems obvious to me that this is all an effort to entrap the man who, for better or worse, is the public face of the Wikileaks organization.

But no, we feminists aren't supposed to remember all that, much less treat it as relevant to the case against Julian Assange. We're supposed to be righteously indignant at his obvious arrogance, and glad that Interpol was mobilized to catch an accused rapist, and deliver the douchebag to Sweden to be held without bail. Pending his extradition to the US, of course; the world's policeman and all-Amurrican good guy, natch.

But if this is how we're supposed to react as feminists, it is utterly ridiculous and an insult to our wits. As Naomi Wolf has humorously noted, this is a very strange and heavy-handed use of the legal remedies fought for--and, in Sweden, won by feminism:

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims' complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women's apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, 'reading stories about himself online' in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first. (Of course, as a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That's what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!).

Well, poor Naomi Wolf--who is serious about issues of rape and withdrawn consent--just can't catch a break for mocking a few of the many absurdities of this case. Other feminists were quick to pile onto her, accusing her of "trivializing rape". Instead of looking at the peculiarities of the Wikileaks timeline and admitting that this is a disproportionate response to a charge formerly considered too weak even to prosecute, they accused her of smearing the alleged victim of one of the alleged attacks.

But what if the alleged victim is not so innocent? What if the alleged attack is part of an elaborate set-up?

We already know that the more prominent woman in question, Anna Ardin, has some very interesting CIA ties. And we know that just around the time the first alleged rape occurred, she tweeted enthusiastically about Assange:

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I screen-capped those from here.

These tweets give no indication that anything untoward had happened. I ran them past my friend Anthony, who lives in Malmö, for a Swede's-eye view. Here's what he said:

The 8/14 tweet caught my attention; Anna wrote that Julian wanted to attend a crayfish party, so she wondered if there were any open seats that night or the following night. A few hours later, she wrote "Sitting outside at 2AM, freezing with the smartest people in the world, it's amazing!"

Ardin later deleted those tweets and locked down her blog.

But let's suppose for the sake of argument that you're convinced that Anna Ardin is just being smeared, and rape trivialized, and so on. The timing? Just a coincidence! The known CIA ties? How dare you play guilt-by-association! Rape is real, how dare "Naomi Effin' Wolf" make fun of it?

No one, least of all Naomi Wolf, is disputing that rape is real, or that victim-smearing is a dirty tactic, a re-victimization on no uncertain terms. What is being disputed here is the case against Julian Assange, which is pitifully weak and certainly doesn't warrant the involvement of Interpol. If it did, legions of human-rights abusers who used rape as a weapon of war would be behind bars by now, rotting deservedly away. You'd think Interpol could easily bust those bastards at Dyncorp, who openly bought child sex slaves in Bosnia and Afghanistan for the raping pleasure of their contractors. (That latter exposé, BTW, comes to the media courtesy of Wikileaks!)

Naomi Wolf was making fun not of rape, but of what is obviously an exceedingly stupid manhunt. And while her tone may be a bit too flip for some people's liking, she's not wrong to laugh at the transparent idiocy of it all. I do too, and so do plenty of other feminists who've been following the Wikileaks saga with interest. Oh, wouldn't it be lovely if Interpol DID chase down every dick who'd ever wronged us? I've got a couple of real lulus for them myself. Let's make a crayfish party out of this shit. You bring the wine, I'll bring the cheese. Share yer stories, girls!

And if that's not ludicrous enough, how about this? We are being asked to believe that two obviously strong women--Anna Ardin, a professed feminist who works for gender equity, and Sofia Wilen, with whom she banded together later to press charges, could not track down Julian Assange to ask him to get tested for STDs. So they were forced to press charges. They apparently had no trouble getting into his pants. So why would he suddenly be too difficult to simply meet for a coffee, like a civilized adult, to discuss blood tests? Gee, what a cad. Maybe he had something to hide?

According to the same Reuters account, Assange claims he had his cellphone turned off for fear that enemies would track him using its signal. Not an implausible reason, since he DOES have enemies in US intel circles, and if they can't track him through technology, ain't nobody can. But he was still in Sweden when the women were allegedly trying to reach him and just urge him to get tested. They could have waylaid him at his hotel, if it was really so urgent. How simple-minded do we have to be to believe that Anna Ardin's blogging about "thinking about some revenge over the last few days" can't be considered evidence that she was up to something more nefarious than simply trying to get him to a clinic?

Okay, you say, that does look bad, but that's still pretty weak. Her blog is now locked down, and it's very likely that she deleted any incriminating bits. Isn't there anything more definite? What about those alleged CIA ties you conspiracy kooks keep nattering on about?

Well, there we have a lot more to go on. A helluva lot.

Via Twitter, I found this article she'd written for the CIA-tied magazine she was working for. Here's Anthony again, translating:

GF's former columnist Anna Ardin has been in Cuba.

Getting to know Cuba is a great political experience and the first thing I would say is that as a foreigner you are extremely discriminated against and constantly pressed for money.

Tourists should always use the hard currency convertible pesos, that is "dollars", which they are called to avoid misunderstandings. All trade with the U.S. dollar was banned in stores in November. A convertible peso is pegged to the dollar and worth 26 Cuban pesos.

Prevented to meet Cubans

You cannot go with the same cheap buses that Cubans use, but must take the tourist taxis, which can cost 20 dollars while the local bus for the same route costs 40 cents of a Cuban peso. Another example is that it is very difficult to live with friends, you always have to pay for hotels or bed and breakfast. The system is almost similar to apartheid!

I'm locked out of the Cuban world and the Cubans are excluded from foreigners - not just financially! Cubans are prevented in many different ways from even visiting the main tourist sites. Foreigners' cars have red registration plates instead of yellow and need not - as the Cubans - to stop and pick up hitchhikers to fill empty seats. In Cuba health care and education are free since the revolution and the Communist takeover in 1959; there are few or no one starving or living on the streets and virtually no need to worry about violence and robbery. But the wages are extremely low.

The salary for the best paid, the police, is $30, a doctor earns about 23, a garbage man 19 and a housekeeper earns seven dollars a month. A beer or a soda costs a dollar, a bottle of oil 2.50, internet for one hour 6, a sports bag 15 and a trip to a neighboring country costs several hundred pesos. Although the prices for most things - except for certain raw materials for food, bus transportation and little else - is in U.S. dollars (that is convertible pesos), the workers get salary in Cuban pesos, which is not always possible to switch.

To survive on these wages seem to be impossible (despite the very minimum required being relatively inexpensive). To save up for a pair of shoes could take half a year, not to mention buying a television or a car, yet many Cubans have this - how? Well, since 1993, it is allowed for Cubans to hold hard currency.

Want to change money

So by drinking or to work with private tourism differs more and more from the crowd. The ones that are excluded from the life you can only live if you have dollars. In that perspective, it is no wonder that in every street corner you are stopped by a so-called jinetero (riders). He asks where you come from, if you want to change money, buy cigars, follow them home to their backyard restaurant or have them as a personal guide to buy them food and clothing. As a woman, you notice nothing of the female counterpart to these, las jineteras, which might more literally ride their tourists for a few days or weeks in exchange for food, clothing and shoes. Or they run around them in their nice cars or pay, to the jinetera or directly to her jineteros - the pimps.

Sex tourism is increasing. Tourism combined with the money that exile Cubans send home accounts for well over half of the currency revenues of the treasury. That the country is so dependent on something that there is not enough of for the whole population, which excludes many and forces people to flee is not sustainable. Cuba needs a new policy. The question is what?

Between Castro or the U.S.

The Social Democratic opposition - Corriente Socialista Democrática Cubana - are trying to show that there is an alternative between the only two clearly presented options, the extremes: that Castro and his gang govern Cuba or the United States does. In a second article I will write more about what the Social Democrats in Cuba think will happen when the now 78-year-old dictator Fidel Castro dies.

Now, this is a load of crapaganda. If you can't smell the CIA's cheap cologne on that, you're hopeless.

Anyone who's really been to Cuba will tell you that it's not as bad as articles like this lead you to believe. The locals are not quarantined from you, or you from them, unless there's some good reason. Working for a CIA-connected crapaganda rag might well be a good reason for the authorities to confine you to your luxury tourist hotel room. But then, if poor Anna Ardin were really so confined, how would she "know" all those appalling details about how the poor oppressed Cubans really live? Unless, of course, she were simply being fed the dubious info by her CIA handlers, in which case she wouldn't even have to go to Cuba to "report" it; she could do it just as easily from home.

And that second-last bit really leapt out at me, too. Interesting focus on sex there for our sex-crimes complainant. Very typical CIA glurge, designed specifically to tweak our most sensitive feminist nerves: Look what that mean old dictator Fidel Castro is making those poor women do! Still more interesting is the lack of hard figures. She claims that prostitution revenues and remittances from "exiles" counts for more than half of the cash in the Cuban treasury. But without numbers and verifiable references to prove it, that all don't mean nuttin', honey.

Of course, it being a CIA rag, hard proof is not really required. Sensationalism is. And the article has that in spades. Just look at the language: "The system is almost similar to apartheid!"--the sky is falling! Oh noes!

Gee, you don't suppose someone who'd write such ghastly goop would have an ulterior motive regarding Julian Assange--whose organization just so happens to have uncovered a lot of embarrassing stuff from US embassies linked to various putsches in various countries allied to Cuba?

Nahhhh. Don't let's connect those dots. Let's just stick to our simple-minded pre-gummed narratives and be good, outraged little bourgeois féministes, huffing at the hacker boogyman and hoping The Hague locks him up for war crimes. Let's accuse those who find odd dirt on Anna Ardin of smearing her, when in fact she seems to have done a fair job of muddying herself. No, no, we can't allow that; let's just view her as a plain and simple victim. And pretend all the Wikileaks stuff is what's extraneous, and that it's not, perhaps, Julian Assange who's really being smeared.

But this feminist can't pretend, and certainly can't ignore the blindingly obvious.

Wikileaks is shining an uncomfortably bright light on things the US doesn't want us to see, and how they are being perpetrated. It's shown incriminating footage of US helicopters firing on innocent Iraqis in Baghdad. It's exposed the way US embassies lie to the citizens of the countries where they are posted, and lie about them as well. Is it really so far-fetched to surmise that Anna Ardin, who lied about Cuba in a CIA rag, just might have been sent by the same CIA to take Julian Assange down, by whatever means necessary? Is it really a smear to demonstrate--not suggest, not insinuate, but DEMONSTRATE--that she is more than a little bit connected to them, just as they are connected to every US diplomatic installation and quite a few seemingly private corporations?

Again, let's look at the timeline.

The first big bombshell Wikileaks dropped was Collateral Murder; this went down on April 5. On July 6, Bradley Manning was charged with leaking the video to Wikileaks. Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen slept with Julian Assange on August 14 and 17, respectively, while the latter, undoubtedly feeling the heat from the US, was hoping to gain residency and whistleblower protection in Sweden. The encounters were consensual according to both women, and uneventful except for the respective alleged condom disputes. Later, both allegedly sought him out, being worried about catching a sexually-transmitted disease. They couldn't find him because his cellphone was turned off. Then they turned to the authorities to press charges, only to be told it was too hard to prove, and saw the charges dropped. Only to have them reinstated now, of all times. While Bradley Manning, surely by malign coincidence, is also already jailed and awaiting trial--facing 52 years of hard time in the federal pen. He is suspected of leaking the Cablegate documents, as well, although he has not been charged with that.

Would this case have gone anywhere if the man in question were anyone other than Julian Assange, who just happened to have humiliated the US government that spring with that ghastly video release? And would he have been sought for prosecution if he hadn't just gone public with the first of many expected Cablegate releases?

The Swedish prosecutors deny that any pressure was brought to bear on them by the US. Yet just last week, the Swedish government was mortified by the revelation that Sweden is no longer neutral. Who announced it? Wikileaks, via Cablegate. The local US embassy had the gall to write as much to Washington! And I reiterate: The US authorities are now looking to extradite Assange from Sweden. Even with no charges of their own against him. They are looking for a way to do it, some hook to hang those charges on. Doesn't matter if it's as flimsy as the anti-Castro tripe Anna Ardin used to write. It doesn't have to be true. It just has to be sensational enough to get public opinion on side...

Yeah, tell me it doesn't all hang together. Denial, river in Egypt. Cleo, you're up the creek!

It's much easier to go into a "good feminist" (or full-on conspiracy nut) tizzy, I grant you, than to follow complex international developments in a more intelligent manner. It's also safer than to do another smart thing: dovetail one's feminism and freedom-of-information advocacy for the common, global good. Unfortunately, it's also the perfect way to divorce feminism from the much larger international issues that we ignore at our peril. It makes us feminists all look like laughingstocks or Limbaughian feminazis. We inadvertently contribute to our own continued alienation from our sisters in the global south if we fall for that narrative. We also end up setting back our own progress, and theirs.

But we don't have to. This radical, left-wing feminist agrees wholeheartedly with Gloria Steinem: The truth will set us all free. But first, it will piss us off.

Let it.

December 5, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx goes all Wiki on us

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Ms. Manx has been watching the whole Wikileaks kerfuffle unfolding with some interest. She would like you to know that she finds this round a LOT more interesting than the bogus "Magic Laptop" incident of two years ago, when it looked like Wikileaks was being made an instrument, however inadvertently, of the State Dept. and its pals in the Colombian army. It seems in retrospect like a pre-emptive strike of sorts...something designed to discredit Wikileaks as a messenger by alienating leftists who might otherwise see it as a valuable tool for exposing government and corporate bullshit, corruption and other ugly things that we're not supposed to see.

But the Stumpy Cat DOES see, and she wouldn't be surprised if something were to come out on Wikileaks showing the Magic Laptop Incident in its true colors. She thinks it mighty significant that the Magic Laptop allegedly survived a missile attack on a FARC camp in the jungles of Ecuador, and wonders why, if it's possible for a scroungy Colombian guerrilla to get his hands on one, the president of the United States doesn't own a bomb-proof 'pute himself. Meanwhile, here are some interesting kitty-nomnoms she's found:

The woman who accused Julian Assange of sexual assault has, shall we say, a rather spotty past. Spottier than Ms. Manx's coat, and that's pretty damn spotty! Did you know she was kicked out of Cuba for working with a local CIA front group? Obviously, her "left-wing feminist" cover is now blown. Ms. Manx wonders if she plans on withdrawing those minor-league sex charges anytime soon. Maybe Julian Assange could send a wire transfer for that $715 US that is the real penalty for condomless sex in Sweden.

But of course, rather than taking the easy way out, Julian Assange plans to fight it. Obviously not in Sweden, though. And given that the US embassy in Stockholm announced that that country is no longer neutral, gee, what a shocker!

Meanwhile, Ms. Manx has learned something truly shocking: Even though cute widdle emo-kid Justin Bieber and his cute widdle emo-kid hair are supposedly a forever-trending topic on Twitter, the truth is that they only get a fraction of the tweetage that Wikileaks does. Yet the #Wikileaks hashtag doesn't show up anywhere in the top trends alongside all the saccharine trash that's supposedly trending worldwide. Neither does the also-popular #cablegate. Is someone gaming the tweeter? A tweepish friend snarks that for a little extra, you can lose the "promoted" label that usually runs alongside paid "trending" tweetage. Maybe, says the Stumpy Cat as she pensively scratches her ears, that's not such a joke.

JimBobby has a work-around that may still be working by the time this note goes to air; give it a try. And if it's not, here's a whole slew of mirrors*, which is growing apace. There are lessons to be learned from all this, sayeth the Manx.

And for serious analysis of the "what it all means" of it all, Eric Margolis is your go-to guy.

* Addendum: Prog-blogging buddy Rick has a mirror site up as well, here.

December 4, 2010

Economics for Dummies: The dark side of the Magic Kingdom

If you've ever wondered what life is like behind the scenes at Walt Disney World in Florida, here are some stories the company doesn't want you to hear. Workers underpaid; health and safety concerns unaddressed; the same cast members who make visitors smile being forced to depend on charity and food stamps and second or third jobs in order to get by. If the flibbers had their way and all government welfare programs were killed, so too would Disneyworld be, because no one can afford to work there without some kind of social assistance. The shareholders may be smiling, but those whose work brings in those massive profits are ashamed to tears. It's a long way from the stated goals of the late Walt Disney himself.

Video in two parts; click through at the end for part II.

December 3, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Chavecito at his best

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Just another typical Chavecito moment--comforting a child displaced by heavy rains and flooding in Caracas. This is what Chavecito is best at...looking out for his people in their hour of need:

The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, will not be attending the 20th Ibero-American summit, having decided not to travel to Argentina in order to attend to the flooding problems in his country, according to official sources.

Instead, it is expected that foreign minister Nicolás Maduro will head up the Venezuelan delegation to the summit of Latin American heads of state, gathered under the slogan "Education for Social Inclusion".

Other leaders not attending are Evo Morales, of Bolivia; Daniel Ortega, of Nicaragua; and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of Spain.

The Venezuelan opposition, which launched all manner of speculations surrounding the presidential visit to Argentina, remains without a response to the decision taken by the president.

Translation mine.

This isn't the first time heavy rains around December have caused catastrophic flooding in Venezuela. Around the time Venezuelans voted to ratify their new constitution in 1999, the skies opened up...and stayed open, to tragic effect. Thousands were swept to their death in mudslides on the coast of Vargas state. It was, quite possibly, Chavecito's finest hour as he directed his troops to evacuate displaced people from the stricken region. In fact, he himself was there for the evacuation; no mere figurehead, he led the charge hands-on. One of my favorite photos of him from that time shows him in a similar pose to the picture at the top--in uniform, holding a child. He's lifting a little girl to safety from a lifeboat. Another shows him outdoors, giving his troops their orders; the young men's eyes are glued to him. (I can't find them online, but you can see them in Bart Jones's bio, ¡Hugo!. Highly recommended reading, BTW.)

That last paragraph is killer, too. The oppos were calling for protest marches--against Chavecito, as usual--even as the flooding was taking place. In the end, the demos were cancelled, and all their mouthing off is now doubly for nothing. Chavecito is doing more for the flood victims than all of them combined ever will. And that's entirely in character for both parties, which is why Chavecito is president and the opposition's so-called leaders are not.

November 21, 2010

Russian TV crew arrested at the School of the Assassins

Your take-away lesson here, kiddies: Fascism and torture cannot bear closer scrutiny. Why else shut out a camera crew covering a protest against a "democratic" school teaching those things?

November 14, 2010

Heroes for Today: Graeme Taylor and Larry Skopnik

One's a gay teen, the other's a paraplegic. But both have something remarkable in common: the way they stand up for others in the face of yahoos trying to take things away from them. Considering how vulnerable both are, their courage deserves a hearty round of applause.

October 22, 2010

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Obama's moment of Zen

If only His Barackness were always like this, he WOULD be a socialist. Let's savor him getting this one bang-on, and salute his efforts against bullying, homophobia and suicide. And keep the heat on his feet to drive a stake through the heart of DADT.

August 29, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Remembering Katrina

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I recall Hurricane Katrina only too well, as it happened on my dad's birthday five years ago. It was a surreal day, to say the least. As my folks and I sat in front of the TV and watched the storm roll inland on a traffic camera, and the traffic lights in the foreground began to swing wildly, we knew in our guts that this was going to be a horror. And it was: More than a thousand people drowned in the storm surge, most of them poor and black.

What followed was even worse: We learned that it was not the storm itself that had done the most damage, but bad BushCo policy and plain old human neglect. Levees that should have been shored up and maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers, were not; FEMA, which should have helped the survivors evacuate and put their lives back together, ended up both neglecting them and, bizarrely, imprisoning them in trailer-park camps as if they were common criminals, and not merely poor folks in need of a home and the basic necessities of life. (And we haven't heard the last about those infamous trailers yet. Or "Heckuva Job" Drownie Brownie, either.)

And then the real horror of it hit home. Pictures of floating corpses leaked out, one by one. Stories emerged, too: people seeking help being shot by local police and the National Guard, presumably for "looting" goods that had become unsaleable anyway; the Superdome stadium and the convention centre, meant to shelter storm refugees until they could be evacuated, being neglected and filled with filth and desperation (and rumors of rape gangs that turned out to be false, although there were a handful of deaths inside, only one of them violent); a hospital forced to euthanize its sick and elderly patients because it could no longer keep them alive; a flooded prison, locked down and its inmates abandoned to a hideous combination of sweltering heat, hunger, and water-borne diseases. And then there were people like Miss Vera, who survived the storm only to get mown down by a hit-and-run driver, some random asshole who just didn't give a shit. Every Katrina death seemed somehow emblematic of what happens when people in a position to do something just stop caring and let things go to hell. It got so bad that I developed a Pavlovian nausea that acted up every time someone uttered the K-word.

And I wasn't even physically there. Can you imagine what life must have been like for those who were?

Life is still hard for the storm's displaced survivors. But it does go on, and pockets of hope have been slowly appearing between the wreckage and the tacky "rebuilding" so touted by whites of the privatize-all persuasion. Here are some of the hopeful stories.

Truthout tells the Katrina story in poignant black-and-white cartoons. The hero of the story is New Orleans itself, "a city where people not only ask how you are, they wait for an answer."

Yes! Magazine has a positive account of the spirit of that city. No, it's not dead yet, in spite of corporatism's best efforts to kill it. In fact, it seems to be catching; those who came as volunteers to help rebuild, keep coming back. There is no shortage of need for their help, and no shortage of love, either.

Ann Beeson finds some hints as to how and why that spirit continues to survive. The secret, it seems, lies not in the "experts" trucked in from without to whiten and restructure the place, but in the local people, most of them black, who stuck around and picked up the pieces when no one else cared.

Sarah Jaffe relates the old wound of Katrina to the new one of the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe, and reminds us of why we must not succumb to "disaster fatigue", but keep on fighting for what we love, wherever it may be, no matter what. New Orleans has been battered and abused, but its people aren't giving up. Nor should we give up on them.

And on that note, I really love Rachel Maddow for stating the painfully obvious.

And on a final note, Color of Change is raising funds to help the (still very ongoing) rebuilding process. Kick in what you can.

July 19, 2010

Who is this "silent majority", and why do they want to shut us up?

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I have always found the phrase "silent majority" irksome. Not just because Tricky Dick used it (and was, of course, lying his ass off when he did so), but because makes no sense. How do you know people who share your smugly conservative views are, in fact, a majority, when they're silent?

You don't, and that's just what makes this phrase so stupid. It takes a lot for granted.

It takes for granted, as Tricky Dick did, that just because a majority of people aren't out there at any given time demonstrating against some huge injustice, that they must therefore be FOR it, rather than against it and unable to do anything about it (like take time off work or travel many miles to go to a demo, say). It takes for granted that people are constantly free to speak their minds publicly, and if they don't, it's because their mind is already made up in favor of the prevailing order, or the ruling class, or whatever trash the TV is trying to sell them.

Of course, that's ridiculous. Not everyone who opposes the G-20 fuckery is going to be able to turn out to demonstrate against it; I'd say that maybe just one opponent in ten made it to Toronto for the big demo, and that's an optimistic number. Fewer still made it to the subsequent protests against police brutality and the violation of civil rights, but that hardly means, as Dalton McGuinty claimed when he appropriated Tricky Dick's phraseology, that those who showed up to speak out were a vocal minority. They were just the few who could afford to spare the time and energy to be there.

More insulting is the notion that the so-called "silent majority" assumed to be in favor of the fuckery has more wisdom and sense on the issues. In fact, those in favor are the ignorant ones. And to anyone who had the nerve to snark on the protesters, claiming they didn't know what they were against, here you go. Chow down on this open letter from someone who WAS there, and who knew full well what it was about:

First, why did we even protest the G20?

The G20 is the meeting of 20 leaders from the 20 richest countries in the world. They meet to discuss and implement economic policies. There is no administrative body, and the G20 is accountable to no one. The one thing that came out of this G20 meeting in Toronto was an agreement on 'austerity measures'.

In a nutshell, austerity measures is another way of saying cuts to public spending in order to bail out banks and corporations, which are the reasons for economic crisis in the first place.

A lot of people have been talking about neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a cluster of policies or an ideology based on belief in the free market: that the market can best regulate itself, and should not be subject to interference. This includes taking for granted the assumption that capitalism is a good thing and that it's necessary. Capitalist enterprises such as corporations involve increasing profit by whatever means necessary: the responsibility of corporations is to their stockholders, not to those who are affected by corporate policies.

[...]

Neoliberal policies and practices have resulted in the economic crisis that we're currently in the midst of--where folks are laid off work, factories close, or companies move overseas where they can capitalize on more cheap labour to increase their profits.

Rather than questioning the roots and assumptions behind neoliberal policies, the G20 leaders have decided that the solution for neoliberalism, is, in effect, more neoliberalism. Rather than taxing banks or corporations, they are taking public money to bail out these institutions, which are by their nature unsustainable. Put simply, this is taking money from the poor, to bail out corporations and banks, which result in more money for those who own the companies or the people who own a lot of stocks.

This is a big part of why we protest the G20. Because we disagree with a small population imposing policies that make a few richer, while increasing the divide between the rich and the poor, and continuing to harm the majority of the world's population and the environment.

Those who protest are vocal, yes, but they are NOT a minority. Nor do they protest on behalf of a minority. They protest on behalf of the overwhelming, and TRULY silent, majority of the world that is NOT represented by the G-20 and its unethical, unaccountable so-called leaders.

The people Dalton McGuinty and Tricky Dick claimed for their own, as a "silent majority", are in fact the minority. They are every bit as vocal when they say that the "anarchist thugs" who were there "got what they deserved". I certainly don't see THEIR opinion being under-represented in the news, nor in online polls, nor in "official" polls by Angus Reid et al.

In fact, this manufactured opinion has been made to carry the day, because the discourse has been hijacked since before the G-20 summit began. The cops who arbitrarily decided to not let protesters within five metres of the fence were the terrorist musclemen, and the three levels of government who gave the keep-'em-out orders were the same who determined in advance what the tone of the discourse was to be: Everything going on inside the fence good, everyone protesting outside it bad. Everything inside the fence order and propriety, everyone protesting outside it anarchist thug.

Thus was a billion dollar security boondoggle sold to a thumb-sucking public who would, of course, be the ones footing the bill. And thus was said public manipulated into thinking, against all evidence to the contrary, that the cops had done the right thing when they arrested more than a thousand people on no actual charges.

A billion dollars and a thousand arrests for nothing. Nothing, that is, but a vastly unpopular fuck-over of the vast majority of the world's people--with cutbacks and shitty macroeconomic policies already proven by all of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia not to work. Seems pretty steep, but it's nothing compared to the price the world's exploited people--and yes, Canada has 'em too--are going to pay.

Must keep that majority silent, since they weren't in on the consultation, right? Must ridicule, suppress and just plain shut them up. At all costs.

I propose that the so-called "silent majority" referred to by the Dalton McGuintys and Tricky Dicks of the world be referred to, instead, as the Silencing Minority. Because that is, in fact, what it is.

"It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant." --Nellie McClung

July 13, 2010

Conservative "libertarians"--whose allies?

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I was chided by a liberal today for very rudely telling off a gun guy who presumes that his side is the "right" one to be on in the battle for civil liberties here in Canada. I always love it when people supposedly on my side take up for the other; way to prove that "liberals are milquetoast" belief the right holds of you, pal. But you know what? I don't feel bad for telling the the con-job to fuck the hell off. Mr. Gunner had it coming; he was snotty and patronizing, and dared to use that "when I was young and foolish, I thought like you, too" canard on me.

BIG mistake.

You see, I'm not that young anymore. Youthful, yes, and I look young for my years, but I'm not exactly one of those green-haired kids you see at demos and some people think are the only ones that show up. I've already lived three years longer than Che Guevara, who died before he was 40. I don't think of myself as middle-aged, but clearly I'm not a kid, and haven't been one for quite some time. I have been in the struggle for all kinds of human and civil rights in Canada for more than two decades now, starting when I was 20 or so. I may not be a major figure, and I wouldn't go putting on airs of being a veteran, but neither am I just some snot-nosed punk with naïve notions about making the world a better place. I'm old enough to have much clearer ideas than that, and more concrete patience as to how they are to be implemented.

I am in the struggle, and I am committed to it for life. I committed myself to it little by little over more than half of my life to date. Each failure (and there have been many) has taught me something. I know the struggle is not going to be won by grand gestures or any other overnight victories. Time and experience and liberal lashings of extracurricular study have granted me that wisdom. That's why I am vocal about just how much I don't appreciate being patted on my pretty little curly red head by some good ol' Johnny-come-lately with a gun who thinks he's some kind of anti-authoritarian authority, just because he has a penis extension with an ammo clip.

(Or because he wants one and can't have it, thanks to the evil wicked federal government not granting him the privilege of having the supposed means to overthrow it. Same thing, really. Gun guys are all perpetual wannabes. Let them have a deer rifle, and they'll all cry because you won't let them have a machine-gun; let them have a machine-gun, and they'll cry because you didn't let them have a fucking bazooka. Big, fat, perpetually dissatisfied babies they are, at whatever age.)

Anyhow, this all has me thinking: Just because the right-wing flibbertigibbertarians are now joining in our clamor for civil liberties in the wake of the G-20 fiasco, should we on the left seriously consider them as allies?

My gut instinct tells me NO, WE SHOULD NOT. And my gut is not alone in this. My eyes and ears tell me so, too.

Even a cursory look around should be enough to prove my gut check correct. Where were these guys at the G-20 protests? Were they marching? Were they supporting from the sidelines? Were they reporting with cellphones and home movie cameras? Were they blogging and tweeting in support of the jailed?

None of the above.

The right-wing gun-guy flibbertigibbertarians were all conveniently elsewhere. They were not even raising their pipsqueak voices in solidarity from afar, as I was. They would never cheer for a leftist standing up to authority. In fact, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that before the G-20, they were all rah-rah for the Harpocrats, because those guys promised to get rid of the long-gun registry and because they hated the Dirty Fucking Hippies, and considered anyone who would protest global capitalist hegemony to be an anarchist deserving to get his or her head bashed in, like that poor soul in London the last time (who was, incidentally, just a passer-by). These guys all had absolutely NO problem with that, other than maybe what it cost and how bad it made capitalism look for just a split second there. But it didn't concern these concern trolls. It was someone else's head being bashed in, not theirs. And it was all happening at a safe distance.

Now that it's all suddenly right here in Middle Canada among us, and the evidence is all out there on YouTube that the cops were heavy-handed on orders from above, NOW all of a sudden they pipe up. Not that I'm unhappy to hear it, exactly--but jeez, gun guys, why so late to the party? Were you expecting to make a grand entrance with your guns, your ammo and your god-awful camo, and proclaim yourselves the saviors of us all?

If so, you're full of shit.

You didn't show up with your guns to the G-20 to clear the line of armored cops away from the people they were beating on. You didn't show up at the jails, either, to blast the thousand-some arrestees free. No Molotov cocktails for you, oh no. That's Black Bloc tactics, pure DFH stuff. You didn't fire a single round in defence of the leftists, not even from a kiddie slingshot. Explain to me exactly how you and your weaponry are supposed to be the God-sent answer to tyranny, again?

Oh yeah, I forgot. The feds, the same ones you voted for because they were right-wing lawn-order types, wouldn't let you buy your widdle bang-bang guns and bring them in. And if you had, you'd have been mown down by the riot squad, not with rubber bullets either, and you knew it. You pissed your pants in fear of it.

Poor babies.

No, I don't trust a conservatard with a gun to fight for the rights I have yet to obtain, because I've already seen how worse than useless they are at merely defending the existing ones. And it's not because these guys have their hands shackled by us mean little lefties, or Big Bad Government, no matter how much they whine to that effect. It's the fault of no one but the cons themselves. These guys are no Che Guevara; to them, he's another Dirty Fucking Hippie. And a commie, oh noes. Those are the worst "authoritarians" of all, to hear the rightards tell it. They think every leftist is Joe Stalin underneath it all, even though there's ample evidence throughout Latin American history that the much-feared leftist guerrillas were in fact the biggest real libertarians of all, while the official Communist parties of the various countries were at pains to distance themselves from Moscow and the guerrillas both, and the guerrillas, in turn, disdained Moscow as too authoritarian and the official Communists as too stodgy, too reluctant to fight for the people, and too busy trying to build their own electoral legitimacy in a fake-democratic system which was blatantly stacked against the Left on all fronts.

But let's not trouble their australopithecine brains with those facts, shall we? The point is, these right-wingers, even when they manage to organize themselves, are no freedom fighters. They couldn't get up even the most half-assed of guerrilla armies. In Canada they have never done so yet, and in the US, they have only succeeded in making asses of themselves. They have much in common with the fascist cops they claim to despise--they eat too many doughnuts, and they LOOK like doughnuts, too. One would think they were cops manqués, and one wouldn't be wrong; they are. And if they ever passed the entrance exams to police academy (which, heaven knows, takes no geniuses), they would turn into the worst kind of cop: the Bullyboy With A Badge, the kind that's hot to crack hippie heads at a G-20 demo. They will never fight for others; they don't really care about the oppressed. Here or abroad, they will only jeer at the poor to "get a fuckin' job", ignoring the fact that most of those wretches already have two or three apiece and still can't make enough to buy a decent house. The only people they will fight for is themselves, although they might pat the likes of me smirkingly on our heads and nobly claim they're doing it for us, because we're too silly and wussy to scream for more and bigger guns. (They think we only scream for ice cream.) Some might even eloquently fool themselves (and a few of us) into believing that there really is some higher purpose to what they're doing.

But at bottom, no, they're not doing it for anybody but THEM. That's why they voted for the Tories in the first place--or local fringe parties who think the Tories aren't right-wing and authoritarian and pro-capitalist enough. It behooves us on the left to remember that. Don't watch their mouths when they talk; watch their feet when it comes time to vote. These guys will never vote for the common good. Pure, unenlightened self-interest is their modus operandi, now and forever.

Don't believe me? Fine, take a good hard look at anyone who ever accomplished anything for civil rights and liberties anywhere. Tell me who they were, what their politics were. Was Rosa Parks a right-wing white guy with a gun, agitating for the right to unlimited guns? No, she was a middle-aged black lady who'd been a staunch, quiet civil-rights campaigner for many years before she simply sat down and stayed put on that bus in Montgomery, and wouldn't budge when Whitey ordered her to. How about Gandhi? Damn, the dude kicked out the British Raj from India without firing a single shot--or even a literal kick! He walked around in white loincloths, not camo fatigues. He organized protests, not armies. And both of these heroes had such a mass following that it was impossible to ignore them. They won in the end, not with bullets but with ballots.

Closer to home, Tommy Douglas--CCF socialist and Baptist preacher--gave every individual in Saskatchewan the right to free healthcare, education, highways and more. His socialist initiatives were so successful that every other province in Canada eventually copied them, even those with conservative premiers. Under Lester B. Pearson, a Liberal, the changes wrought by the leftist Tommy Douglas and his provincial government became enshrined in federal law. Pearson also let the Vietnam-era draft dodgers, conscientious objectors, and peace activists in, and more than 25,000 of them came to call Canada home. All have praised its peacefulness and freedoms; none have tried to import US-style gun-mad politics here. And Pierre Elliot Trudeau--another Liberal--patriated our Constitution from Britain, and appended our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Thanks to those two documents, we are (or were, before Harpo) better off than our cousins to the south, rights-wise. I'll bet you good money that the rightards aren't even remotely familiar with the text of either one. I can tell you this much: Neither the Constitution nor the Charter guarantee ANYONE the right to guns.

And need I remind you that the Underground Railroad ended in Canada, where slavery was abolished long before it was even thought seriously about in the US? I'll give you a broad hint as to why that is: it certainly wasn't Tories, or any other conservatives, who agitated for that abolition. And it's a pretty safe bet that conservatives weren't sheltering any runaway slaves, either.

The entire history of the Americas is rife with conservative oppressors and liberal-to-leftist freedom fighters. There is not one conservative who ever fought for human rights, and not one socialist or true, un-milquetoasty liberal who didn't.

And no, the leftists didn't all have guns. They didn't all need them: Tommy Douglas needed only his pen, some paper and a microphone to become our Greatest Canadian. Even Dr. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who famously left behind his medical kit and kept his rifle when fighting in the Cuban revolutionary war (which his column won at Santa Clara), would say that it the people's revolutionary consciousness, not his gun, that was his best and most effective weapon in the struggle for human rights. The gun was merely his back-up, a tool for holding off the enemy. It was not the instrument of change; the mind was. It was only when he could make no progress with the people that his revolutionary guerrilla armies failed.

Where no mind for change exists, there can be no revolution; there cannot even be a victorious struggle for one person's rights, let alone the "individual" rights of all. No individual's gun, nor indeed the collective ownership of lots of guns, can change that. The US is lousy with guns; have they overcome the tyranny of Wall Street and the Pentagon yet?

No, because the mind for positive social change is one thing conservatives have never had, and never will. Not even the so-called "libertarians" of the right. Those guys will fall right in behind authoritarians like dominoes, when all's said; the topdog/underdog mindset is all they know. And they want to be topdog; they don't resent authority unless they don't have it to themselves. They don't want to build a world where there are no topdogs or underdogs. They are conservatives, and the only thing they conserve is the old order, in which women and minorities stay in "their" underdog place, and white male topdogs with guns run the show.

No, they are not our allies. They never were, and never truly will be. And woe betide anyone who is lulled by a few nice words from them into thinking otherwise.

"If you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine." --Ernesto "Che" Guevara, one TRUE libertarian.

July 8, 2010

"This ain't Canada": the trauma of the G-20

A young woman who was arrested at the G-20 protests talks about her dehumanizing experience at the hands of the cops. She was far from alone in being grotesquely maltreated. Stories like hers are pouring out, and it's getting awfully hard to deny the ugly picture they add up to. Even rah-rah cop-huggers like the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington are now waking up to the brutal side of those whose job it is to be enforcing the law, not making it up as they go along, or taking it in their own hands. What the fuck, for example, to make of this?

An incident during the protests on University Ave. -- captured on video -- would be a good one to study.

In it an officer says "this ain't Canada right now" while another one says "this is G20 land." And when a man, who was put in a physical hold by police for no reason clear on the video, said "I don't like to have my civil rights violated" an officer can be heard saying "there's no civil rights here in this area."

Where did these officers get this idea? On their own or from above?

Pertinent questions, and let's hope there are answers. For that, we will need a full public inquiry. Have you joined this Facebook group yet?

In the meantime, DAMMIT JANET! has some very pertinent information for those who were told this wasn't Canada and that their legal rights were thus null and void. Perhaps someone out there can use it--at the very least, to embarrass those who fucked up big-time by uttering those very revealing words. Because the last time *I* looked, Toronto's geography didn't magically change overnight just so the G(oddamn)-20 could grace our home and native land with its presence.

July 4, 2010

Economics for Dummies: Crises of Capitalism, made easy

A lecture by British sociologist David Harvey, accompanied by whiteboard cartoons. Suddenly, we can see why the US right-wing have been so busy trying to silence and/or expunge the voices of the left from their universities (hello, David Horowitz, we see what you did there.) We also see why the right has set up its ultra-capitalist, fundie-infused bogus "universities", such as Liberty and Bob Jones, where NO voices from the left enter at all. It's because leftists have ALWAYS known that capitalism never solves its crises, it just shifts them around. And of course, like Otto von Bismarck, Big Capital's fat cats don't want the masses knowing that (or even becoming very educated at all--hence the high rates of illiteracy in the US, and the complete lack of it in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, all of whom have socialist leaders.)

Fortunately, there are ways around everything, and this is one of the ways around that. You'll come out of this with a very clear view of what's wrong with the picture the capitalist media have drawn.

The only question remaining is, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

June 30, 2010

Authoritarians: Canada haz 'em.

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Ah, yes. I suppose a lot of others will be asking the same thing. Unfortunately, I already know what the answer will be.

Happy Canada Day Eve! Are you looking forward to the fireworks tomorrow, boyz 'n' girlz? That's nice, but trust me, they will be NOTHING compared to what happens when the Toronto 900 get their day(s) in court. How do I know? Oh, a little birdie has been perching on my left shoulder, whispering all kinds of interesting things in my ear.

So what has the little birdie been telling me? Well, here are a few things I heard just today:

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association--that's right, our own equivalent to the ACLU--is going to court on behalf of all those wrongfully arrested (read: ALL arrestees) during the G-20 summit. The suit will target Toronto police and all the other police forces trucked in for the occasion. (Some came from as far away as Calgary and Edmonton. Western fascists--boo, hissssssssss.)

And speaking of police, my friends Pale and Willy would like to know if you have seen a certain burly dude posing as an anarchist. His black duds looked way too new and clean. His shoes look nothing like the grubby sneaks a real anarchist would wear, but a great deal like the sturdy clodhoppers issued to the riot cops. He obviously has regular access to a gym. And that buzzcut? Standard police issue. If you know him, call your local Crimestoppers. In Toronto, that number is (416) 222-TIPS.

Other police beat (and beatdown) stuff: Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun apparently has a number of unnamed sources in the Toronto police force, and they've told him some very interesting things. At times it makes you wonder who were the bigger victims of this blatant breach of democracy, the cops or the people they corralled. (Read all about the conditions in the jail and then tell me. I think it's no fucking contest.)

Meanwhile, Matttbastard is calling for a public inquiry. As are plenty of others. Five hours in a police corral in the pouring rain out at the intersection of Queen and Spadina does seem like pretty solid grounds. So does the fact that police chief Bill Blair makes up his own laws, lies about them, and then, after days of angry protest, finally admits his guilt. I would call that grounds for dismissal, and certainly for a public inquiry ASAP.

The inquiry should leave no one out. The Ontario government, like Bill Blair, has a lot of unethical (and unconstitutional) lawmaking to answer for (it's now denying its obvious role; what a load of mounted police horseshit). The feds are also far from innocent. I'm pretty sure that Harpo's hate-on for Ontario, and its capital city in particular, led to his sadistic decision to host the G-20 billion-dollar boondoggle there, just so he could see the famously progressive city punished for being the economic hub of the nation. Well, he got his secret wish; Torontonians are now appropriately traumatized. The Shock Doctrine has claimed another societal victim.

But all is not trauma and shock. Among the haul of so-called "weapons" seized by the coppers, there's a full set of medieval LARPing gear. Chainmail, crossbow, the works. Clicky here for a good laugh.

And while you're at it, you may also want to sign the CCLA's petition. Sure to be one of many circulating in the days and weeks to come.

Finally, read what this Saskatchewan blogger, who was there, saw that the major media aren't talking about. And then you'll understand why I feel that bloggers have a better handle on the situation than even the most experienced of the professional journalists who were there. Remember, bloggers don't have to self-censor and sanitize, nor do they have to stick to pre-scripted conventional media narratives. Bodes ill for the mainstream media; bodes rather well for us pixel-stained wretches.

And let's hope it bodes well for our home and native land, too. I'm not feeling that true patriot love this year.

Heroes for Today: Johnny Cash, Black Bloc anarchist?

Johnny answers a sartorial question with a song:

Jesus Christ. Just listen to those lyrics. Aren't they a brick through the window of your smug bourgeois sensibilities?

June 28, 2010

Why all conservative voters should be ashamed

This, apparently, is what THEY voted for:

Pure, unadulterated human rights abusage. Riot thugs charged a peaceful protest this afternoon at the corner of Queen and Spadina in Toronto (note Steve's Music Store in the backdrop.) There is no excuse for what they did. All the protesters did was sing "O Canada", with emphasis on the words "We stand on guard for thee".

Apparently, they are the only ones who did.

The G-20, as Jesse Rosenfeld astutely points out in the UK Guardian, is an expansion of the failed G-8 in the aftermath of the global capitalist economic collapse. It was all about changing nothing, except maybe for the worse. It's all about capitalist globalization over and above all human rights, dignity and national sovereignty. (Harpo said so himself.)

Rosenfeld, incidentally, was singled out by riot thugs and beaten and held incommunicado for over 24 hours for that. He was one of many journalists to suffer a "detention" for covering the summit--and its many detractors. (There were more detractors than boosters for the G-20 bullshit. Doesn't that tell anyone anything?) Another Jesse, The Real News's Freeston, was beaten up, and two photographers for the arch-conservative National Post were jailed!

Gee, it's as if the "authorities" didn't want the media reporting an uncontrolled, unscripted version of the story, eh?

Well, of course they didn't. That would have been giving too much freedom of speech to the dissenters. And as my friend Sol points out, dissent is now illegal. You can't even march up to the "security fence" to state your viewpoint without being hassled for a fucking ID, for fuck's sake. And this draconian law was passed in secret!

Meanwhile, the going meme in the compliant whore media is that "peaceful protests turned violent". Bull-fucking-SHIT they did! If the media were fully honest, they would come right out and say "Peaceful protests were attacked by fully-armed riot police in an effort to quash all dissent", because that's just what happened! Again, my friend Sol is your go-to guy for what's wrong with this meme.

And of course, this meme is part of a larger strategy: Make all dissenters out to be criminals. Marginalize them all. And if they don't make violence themselves, throw in a few provocateurs and let THEM provide all the necessary pretexts.

There's just one problem with this: Nimble citizen journalists are now blogging. And they can spot the discrepancies with ease. Case in point: These two posts by Dammit Janet. Interesting how provocs wear the same shoes as the cops, no? And even more interesting how the cars deliberately left out to be torched were NOT working Toronto cop cars. (Wrong numbers. Also, one was missing its plates. Hmmm.)

The major media are doing a very half-assed job. Not surprising; their job is to prop up the existing order, not undermine it with too many pesky, incriminating facts. A pity it's all crumbling around them, and the questions are too many, too pointed and too hard to be "answered" with facile lies anymore. The fascism is naked now, and so's the emperor.

The only remaining question is, what are WE going to do about it?

PS: Here is one place to start.

June 14, 2010

Gaza Roundup 15: R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to Palestinians

And while you're at it, remember these other three letters: BDS. They're short for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Three things the Israeli Knesset is now trying to make illegal, worldwide. Why? Let Palestinian activist Hind Awwad explain:

It took the South African BDS campaign 25 years to achieve what we achieved in five years. That is what South Africans and anti-apartheid activists tell us. And we see [new tactics] of BDS activities by the young generation with flash mobs, actions in supermarkets, dances and songs. It takes the BDS campaign to new levels. A growing number of Palestinian trade unions signed the BDS call [and] trade unions in France, Scotland and Ireland are considering ending their relationship with the Israeli Histradut trade union.

Students are active on campuses in the UK and the US. The students of the University of California at Berkeley made us very proud with their amazing fight for divestment of university funds from General Electric and United Technologies. Palestinian youth in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and in 1948 [historic Palestine] closely followed the events at Berkeley. Another important development is possibly my favorite. Recently, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced [the cessation of] speaking tours of Israeli officials to the UK and the US, because of the protests they expect.

[...]

I think the BDS campaign has done a lot ... it has ended the Israeli left's domination of the discourse which was limited to the occupation, dismissing the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the rights of the refugees. BDS has allowed us to set the terms of the discourse and define our rights. We work towards a complete rights-based solution. It keeps us going. It shows there is hope in the midst of home demolitions, land confiscations, violations of rights and discrimination in Israel. Every victory of the BDS movement feels like we are a step closer. We are not alone in ending the oppression. It has a huge impact.

And that's why. BDS spells serious. Like all exporter nations, Israel has a lot of money riding on the global goodwill of others. If that goodwill were to evaporate...say, over an unprovoked attack on an international flotilla of peace activists...well, a lot of Israeli producers would find themselves suddenly hurting. Maybe not manufacturers of weapons, which find plenty of tyrannical takers around the globe, but those who turn out other, more mainstream consumer products, such as Jaffa oranges and AHAVA cosmetics, definitely.

And that goodwill is certainly not guaranteed. The world is watching what the Israelis are doing in the wake of the Mavi Marmara murders, and so far, all indications are that they are only serious about one thing, and that's CYA--short for Cover Yer Ass. Did you know that the Israeli judge who is to chair the panel on the flotilla attack isn't serious about his own appointed duty? It's true! All the more reason the international community should be in charge of this one (hello, UN!)--Israel can't be trusted to do anything even remotely resembling due diligence. They won't even talk honestly about what weapons they used against the virtually defenceless flotilla. (Yeah, surprise, even "harmless" paintball guns can shoot a person's eye out at close range, and if a modest-sized passenger ferry like the Mavi Marmara isn't what you'd call close range, you must be blind.)

In the meantime, the B, D and S all are fully justified. Because where Israel is concerned, for Palestine, there is no R-E-S-P-E-C-T forthcoming.

May 19, 2010

Heroes for Today: Courage and kindness in Gaza

A young Palestinian improvises inventions to help those disabled by injuries sustained in the repeated bombardments the Gaza Strip has suffered in recent years. Even in the midst of travel and trade restrictions imposed by Israel, he still manages to get materials--sometimes found objects and "junk"--and help others. Ingenuity at work!

(Yup, another new category. Look for lots more entries to come!)

May 17, 2010

Promised You a Miracle

Thanks to a friend on Facebook, some music for this fine Monday morn:

Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr teams up with Canada's own Martha Wainwright to remake an '80s classic for Oxfam. The message for G8 leaders is clear: No more promises, time for action. Time to do what it takes to keep women from dying in childbirth or shortly thereafter.

(And yes, abortion SHOULD be included in that plan. Suck it, Harpo, you fundie panderer.)

May 14, 2010

Quotable: Albert Einstein on age, youth and activism

"I believe that older people who have scarcely anything to lose ought to be willing to speak out in behalf of those who are young and who are subject to much greater restraint."

--Albert Einstein, in a letter to Queen Mother Elizabeth, during the McCarthy era. Einstein was the leading public intellectual in the US to take a stand against McCarthy-Hoover witch hunts.

May 11, 2010

Gee thanks, Dubya--FOR NOTHING. Love, Uganda.

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A typical USAID-sponsored anti-AIDS ad in Uganda; it tackles sex, not ignorance, and certainly not microbes. This is the "miracle" that was touted so highly just a few years ago. Now look how it's falling apart...

Uganda is the first and most obvious example of how the war on global AIDS is falling apart.

The last decade has been what some doctors call a "golden window" for treatment. Drugs that once cost $12,000 a year fell to less than $100, and the world was willing to pay.

In Uganda, where fewer than 10,000 were on drugs a decade ago, nearly 200,000 now are, largely as a result of American generosity. But the golden window is closing.

Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

The collapse was set off by the global recession's effect on donors, and by a growing sense that more lives would be saved by fighting other, cheaper diseases. Even as the number of people infected by AIDS grows by a million a year, money for treatment has stopped growing.

So much for global capitalism and all its miracles. So much for "letting the market take care of it"! The market hasn't taken care of squat, since it was government money, not the market, that financed the only thing that's staved off a massive die-off--by providing condoms and drugs.

Then, in 2008, just as Dubya's reign of terrorism was drawing to a close, so was his experiment in unregulated capitalism. The markets collapsed, and with them, funding for AIDS drugs in the Third World. Now that governmental belt-tightening is in vogue, expect that massive die-off to start at any time. So, thanks for nothing, Invisible Hand of the Deregulated Market. Some fucking miracle YOU made!

And here's another nothing to thank Dubya for. Even as the markets were being deregulated, hyper-regulation of human behavior was in vogue. Look how that panned out:

And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the "ABC" approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms.

Remember that? It was touted out the wazoo just a few short years ago. Here, let me refresh your memory:

After all, it was the ABC approach and a policy of openness inspired by President Yoweri Museveni which helped Uganda perform well in the fight against HIV/Aids compared to other countries.

Many African governments have fared miserably in attempting to counter the HIV pandemic, with devastating consequences.

By comparison, Uganda has performed well in bringing down the HIV prevalence to around 6%. In many parts of the country, it was at least three times as high during the early 1990s.

Alas, that useful message was already being diluted in favor of abstinence (at guess-whose behest):

Until a few months ago, a free magazine promoting safe sex was distributed to secondary schools by a non-profit organisation.

But this recently became controversial and faith-based organisations were concerned the magazine was encouraging sex.

As a result, the magazine has been ditched, and that avenue for getting the safe sex message to the students has now gone.

The head of guidance and counselling at Kitante Hill school, Samuel Along, is concerned that the safe sex message is not getting through.

"I have seen students at the school pairing up. They come and talk to me and I begin realising they have sexually transmitted diseases. And if we have been insisting on abstinence, don't you think there is a very good possibility they have not used a condom?"

I'd say it was virtually inevitable. The abstinence message is "condoms don't work, so don't bother; just don't have sex!" But how realistic is that in a poor country like Uganda, where prostitution is the only way for so many women (and girls) to make a living?

And let's not rule out a lack of education; a lot of people who don't even know what the word "sex" means, are having it. Unsafely, of course. For a living. And their survival job is killing them.

This is a respectable secondary school in the Ugandan capital where there is good access to information.

But the majority of young Ugandans do not make it beyond primary school and in a country where most people live on less than $1 a day, the link between poverty and sex is strong.

Rogers Kasirye works in the slums of Kampala with street children and teenage prostitutes. Poverty has forced many of them into taking risks.

"It is an economic problem. Many of the young people we are working with are surviving on sex, and the only option or barrier they have is the condom."

Naturally, condoms were the first thing that hit the chopping block when Dubya decided to push his fundamentalist anti-sex agenda:

Whilst churches are pushing the abstinence message, not all religious leaders are happy with President Bush.

Reverend Gideon Byamugisha is HIV-positive and he hopes the US will carefully assess the way in which it influences policy in Uganda.

"We are still hopeful that America, being a strong and well-meaning country, will not go down in history as a country which exported ideas at the expense of people's free will to choose."

Unfortunately, five years later, we know the answer. And it is not what the good Reverend had hoped...

Earlier this week the popular American religious fundamentalist Lou Engle took the stage in front of over 1,300 people at Makerere University in Uganda. He was speaking in the country as the organizer of TheCall Uganda, an event billed as "a gathering of fasting and prayer to confess our personal and national sins."

In reality, the event was a rabid defense of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which seeks to make being gay a capital crime.

Engle's organization TheCall -- which first gained national and worldwide fame as one of the loudest proponents of California's Prop 8 -- denied knowing anything about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it was first invited to Uganda. Engle even issued a press release before his event promising that he wouldn't promote the measure on the stage.

Of course, that was a lie. And the Ugandans fell for it, hook, line and sinker:

Pastor John Mulinde of Trumpet Church, in his prayer, condemned evils in society done by both homosexuals and heterosexuals. He emphasized that homosexuality is in schools, families, and the entire community. He also pointed out that many children are being deceived with school fees from homosexuals and recruit them into the act.

Pastor Lou Engle from America noted that he didn't know by the time of his invitation to Uganda that there was a homosexuality bill. He went ahead to emphasize that it is the Western World using non-government organizations to promote homosexuality. He warned the youth in the crowd that when America allowed homosexuals freedom it was the end of their nation.

He [Engle] called upon the government of Uganda to be firm and hold on its righteous stand against the evil. He mentioned that homosexuals have penetrated the educational system and Ugandans must be aware of the evil. He also lectured about how God planned marriage only between man and woman and that marriage is for procreation.

Honorable Minister of Ethics Nsaba Buturu was worse. He spoke out against homosexuality, saying that for those who think it's a human right issue 'Uganda cannot listen to that nonsense.' He asked the audience to pray for president Museveni and his government to maintain their firms stand against evil in our society.

Pastor Mulinde then called his fellow pastor to come forward and pray for Buturo and Bahati and the government to continue with their crusade against homosexuality.

US faith-based "aid" in action. See how well that works? While they pray...and prey...people are gonna die either way.

Uganda's efforts against HIV/AIDS were successful as long as A (abstinence) and B (being faithful) were buttressed by C (condoms). When Plan C was axed, A and B also fell apart. And Kill-the-Gays isn't going to work any better, given that the vast majority of Ugandan AIDS cases are the result of heterosexual intercourse.

But hey. Between death by homophobia and death by bean counting, I'm sure they'll have that crisis licked in no time...

According to the Uganda AIDS Commission, the lifetime bill for treating one Ugandan AIDS patient, counting drugs, tests and medical salaries, is $11,500.

Donors have decided that is too much, that more lives can be saved by concentrating on child-killers like stillbirth, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and tetanus. Cures for those killers, like antibiotics, mosquito nets, rehydration salts, water filters, shots and deworming pills, cost $1 to $10.

Under its new Global Health Initiative, the Obama administration has announced plans to shift its focus to mother-and-child health. The AIDS budget was increased by only 2 percent.

The British government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also said they would focus support on mother-child health.

...if only because one way or another, all the victims will be dead. Because new replacements are constantly being born, and they're cheaper too. And scratching a hole in the ground for the corpses is the cheapest "solution" of all.

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May 10, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx visits Kent State

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Full disclosure: Ms. Manx was still litter-training when Kent State went down. She was also living in Northern Ontario at the time, and hadn't heard of it till much, much later. But she thinks it's still relevant in light of the times we live in (Free Speech Zones of Muskoka, the Stumpy Cat is glaring at YOU.) So it's with how little has really changed in mind that she would like to bring to your attention the following:

Lots of people still haz a bit of Teh Stoopid about Kent State. To wit, USA Today:

...a campus that unwillingly became synonymous with protest...

Uh, try "synonymous with VIOLENT CRACKDOWNS AGAINST protest", lame writer. Every US university campus, other than the most hardcore conservative, was at that time synonymous with protest against the Vietnam war, and universities in general have been so for as long as there have been foolish old farts who make bad policies for younger, wiser souls to protest against. To single out Kent State as a lone anti-war protest hotspot like this is ludicrous. And if you want to know what the biggest institution in the US to protest the war was, get this: It was the military itself.

More stoopid: Robert C. Cheeks, a hard-right-wing Catholic who praised the Kent State murders in the name of "order". The coward has since deleted his crap, but Beliefnet's pagan blogger, Gus diZerega, sets the record straight and delivers a fab-tabulous spanking.

And speaking of fab-tabulous spankings for craven historical revisionists (and all others touting the discredited line about how the National Guard fired on unarmed protesters and bystanders for the sake of "order"), how about this? Scientific analysis confirms that they were ordered by superiors to prepare to fire, regardless of any lack of aggression on the part of the victims. Nixon was not only escalating the war in Southeast Asia, but also on freedom of speech back home. Alan Canfora, one of the wounded survivors of the massacre, is now using this evidence as basis for a new investigation of the crime. Let's hope he succeeds!

And while you're at it, the Truth Tribunal website is a good place to visit and learn about the ongoing search for facts about Kent State. What's truly appalling is that even now, 40 years after the fact, all the facts are still not a matter of public record. Let's hope that changes, too.

Finally, if your blood is easily boiled, don't click this link. But if you can convert that energy to righteous action, DO CLICK IT.

May 4, 2010

How they get away with it, again and again and again

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The headline (just one of many such in recent months) reads "Predator priests shuffled around globe".

The story that goes with said headline is appropriately gut-wrenching, heart-scalding, and just plain horrendous.

But if you really want to know how they get away with such god-awful things, you may want to read this.

And also this.

And then you may want to consider the following:

They do not give a rat's ass about the laws of humankind, other than how to bend them so that those who presume to speak for the laws of God will go on getting away with all the things they do.

They oppose abortion and birth control because those might interfere with the steady flow of new Catholic tithe-payers. Excess births mean more guilt, more shame, and more souls to be picked on in ways that benefit the church, but destroy the souls in question.

They oppose homosexuality for pretty much the same reason. Heaven forfend that two people whose love does not lead to procreation should ever be happy, let alone together! What kind of example would that set for all the excess children? Especially if some of them end up being adopted by such couples? Would they then feel the need to "sacrifice" themselves to the church, to "offer up their lives to God", at painful cost? Of course not! No, better to taboo all such contact, except in the closet context of, say, a monastery, a seminary, or some other place where it becomes a furtive, shameful, guilt-ridden thing, to be spoken of only in whispers in the confessional, if at all.

They slut-shame the victims of the abuses that clergymen commit, so that those victims will not come forward in time to get the abuser arrested and carted off to jail. This is remarkably easy to do when the victim is a small, young, malleable child or teenager. It's a lot harder to do to a vocal, self-confident, fully grown adult, which is why you seldom hear about any cases of clerical sexual abuse of persons over 18. Not that they don't happen, only that the victims don't fit an optimal profile: too young to fully comprehend what's going on, often too small to defend themselves, and too mentally malleable to challenge the abuser or the abuser's warning not to tell. The victim will grow up feeling that s/he was somehow to blame, because s/he "tempted" the "celibate" abuser in some vile, abominable, indecent way that caused him to break his vows.

This is all very convenient for the abuser, who can then go on "giving in to temptation" for as long as he wants, and never pay the consequences. By the time the victim is old enough and knowledgeable enough to realize that s/he has been criminally violated and that there is something to be done about that, the violator will be out of the law's reach. And possibly out of country, too, since the most abusive priests are the ones who get moved around the most.

And all of this is facilitated by the church hierarchy, by its prudery and its myriad unhealthy taboos around sex. And also by its preference to hang on to bad clerics and move them to new parishes, rather than purging them. Priests are "ordained priests forever", instead of being granted licence to preach only for as long as they are competent. They are required to be celibate, which covers a multitude of "sins" which are, in fact, crimes. They are not permitted any healthy outlets for their sexual urges, or their spiritual ones for that matter; the authoritarian structure of the church itself sees to that. Anyone who speaks out from a libertarian perspective is reprimanded or silenced; the Liberation Theologians get treated very differently from right-wing cults such as the Legion of Christ (which proved to be a notorious sexual-abuse ring) or Opus Dei (which is overtly fascist). When a right-wing priest like Marcial Maciel or "saint" Josemaría Escrivá can enjoy so much privilege (Escrivá's writings, in particular, have been instrumental in helping to cover up sexual abuse cases), it's safe to say that the church itself enjoys special immunity, considering itself above the law. Sexual abuse is readily facilitated by the church on all fronts.

And above all, it is facilitated by the fact that the pope, the Catholic hierarchy, the Vatican, everyone who has the power to do something, to change something, would rather do nothing and change nothing. Because to do that, to make church doctrine subject to change, would be to admit that they are fallible, and that goes against Pius IX's doctrine.

They cannot and will not mend their ways. All they can and will do is what they are doing right now: shifting blame, and shifting predators around, and sweeping the resultant mess under the rug time and again. The shame of the victims, combined with statutes of limitations, makes it possible for them to get away with it all.

When you realize that statutes of limitation, which they have actively sought to keep in place, are as dear to the church hierarchy as the power to move abusive priests around (rather than defrocking them, which would remove them from ecclesiastical protection, and letting civil authorities deal with them in the truly appropriate way), then you will stop asking how they manage to keep getting away with the murder of young people's souls.

You will, however, have to ask why they are so far above the law as to have the power to change it--or not permit it to be changed--to suit their own agenda.

May 1, 2010

Quotable: Eduardo Galeano on May Day

"Chicago, 1886. May 1. When the general strike paralyzed Chicago and other cities, the Philadelphia Tribune diagnosed: The labor element has been bitten by a universal species of tarantula, and has gone stark raving mad. Stark raving mad for fighting for an eight-hour workday and for the right to organize unions.

"The next year, four labor leaders, accused of murder, were sentenced without proof in a kangaroo court. Georg Engel, Adolf Fischer, Albert Parsons and Auguste Spies marched to the gallows. The fifth condemned, Louis Lingg, blew his brains out in his cell.

"Every May 1, the entire world remembers them. With the passage of time, international conventions, constitutions and laws have proven them right. However, the most successful businesses still refuse to recognize them. They prohibit unions and measure the workday by the same molten clocks once painted by Salvador Dalí."

--Eduardo Galeano, "The Universal Tarantula". Translation mine.

April 6, 2010

Cruelty, the uncoolest cut of all

First, a little music to set the mood...

...because I'm really going to try for rationality and detachment here. It's not gonna be easy, because everything about this just triggers the old blue blaze of rage and pain that I felt as an ostracized, bullied child. Every time I got shut out or picked on, that blaze is what I felt. And I don't like admitting that I still feel it every time I see someone else get shut out and/or picked on. You're supposed to get over that old kid stuff, you know?

Only, here's the sad part: You don't. You really don't. And if you're honest with yourself, you admit it.

And if you're really REALLY honest, and painfully so, you admit that this shit goes on everywhere.

Okay, I admit it: This shit goes on everywhere. It goes on in supposedly liberal, enlightened, democratic-socialist CANADA, for God's sake. I know, because it happened to me.

And no, it didn't happen for the same reason as it happened to Constance McMillen. I'm not gay. I didn't have a prom date at all (at least not for MY high school's formal), much less one of my own sex. I was a shy, introverted, bespectacled, skinny, pale, redheaded, frizzy-haired, unathletic, unhip, unhot, too-damn-smart-for-my-own-good geek. And in a small town, where the narrowest definition of "cool" prevails, someone like that stands out. And standing out is unforgivable. The nail that sticks out, gets hammered down. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

And yeah, I got hammered. All through grade school and much of high school, I got fucking hammered.

I won't go into any specific incidents. I've already been triggered enough for one damn day. There are more of them than can be named, anyway, and it made going to school nauseating. And this was for a kid who enjoyed classes. A kid who really wanted to be a doctor someday; a kid whose teachers kept telling her she really ought to be a writer. Being seen enjoying the use of your own brains is apparently utterly unforgivable in a place where conformist mediocrity is prized, other than of course in athletics.

So I got hammered. And I continued to stick out anyway. I bent, but would not be hammered down. I tried to hide my brains: useless. (I still got high 90s in French without even trying. I could have slept through that class and still aced every test.) I tortured my hair with a curling iron, to straighten and feather it into some semblance of fashion: useless. (One small whiff of humidity, and foof it went.) I got contact lenses, so people could finally see that I had a pretty face and not just four eyes: useless. (They were in the habit of seeing me through their own distorted, invisible funhouse lenses. Nothing I did was going to shatter those.)

No, the only thing that saved me from the whole thing was graduating. And going to university in a modest-sized city, where things were bigger all around. And learning to be myself, instead of some cookie-cutter knockoff of every other ditzy chick with Farrah Fawcett wings in her hair. It meant accommodating my curls, accepting my introverted, geekish nature, and learning to flip the bird at convention (and sometimes, at conventional people). And it meant becoming someone radically different not only from what the others were, but from what I had been and thought I should be.

Even a nervous breakdown and the realization that I wasn't going to make it to med school wasn't nearly as bad as being forcibly flipped out of the pond like I was all through my grade- and high-school years. Even realizing I'd fallen hopelessly in love with a gay guy, and being damn near suicidal at the ripe old age of 20, was a piece of cake compared to being shut out. I could get over my thwarted dreams, go beyond the misplaced romantic interest (he's still my best friend to this day--how 'bout THEM apples?), and even get past the desire to just go to sleep and never wake up. But this? No. It follows you silently everywhere.

I thought I had gotten away from it at university, good fucking riddance to small towns and smaller minds--only to find myself suddenly struggling with all the unresolved pain, anger and stark terror of those days. And sometimes, in the dead of night, when I should be asleep but just can't, I still have those moments where I forget who I am, who I've worked so hard to become. I even forget that the town has grown, and is not the same bigoted little place anymore. All I remember is what I have yet to overcome.

And what I have to overcome is that poison cruelty that seems almost inherent in people. The same that prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to say that hell is other people. It's not inborn; it's learned. And it gets passed down through generations. Each one gets beaten by the previous one until it bears the identical scars. Then it turns on the next and starts beating on them until they, too, bear those scars...

So when I read the obscene self-justifications that some people go through, presenting themselves, the bullies, as the poor little victims of a nasty, gay revolution--well, why not just wave a red cape in front of me and every other excluded kid? I mean, it's not as if you're not just asking to get your sorry asses kicked, is it now?

And yeah, I would so love to kick every ass of every person who ever did this to another. Doesn't matter for what "reason". I don't give a shit for your justifications; spare me the "explanations", I'm in no mood to hear any of them. Don't bother to comment here; I'll either delete it or declare you a Wanker of the Week, depending on whether my mood is fair or foul. You cannot explain or justify this. I know what you did. It has a name: CRUELTY.

Cruel isn't cool, and I'm not fucking cool with anyone who's cruel. I want to kick cruel people's asses, ALL of them. I'd wear out my trusty old cherry Docs doing it, no doubt about that.

But we're not supposed to kick ass; we're supposed to be meek, mild and forgiving. We're supposed to grow beyond all that. We're supposed to Forget. I mean, it's only a silly prom, fergawdsakes. For a bright kid with a future, it's supposed to be just a stumbling-stone on the road to Better Things. It's only important to those who peaked in high school. That ain't me, right?

Well, fuck it. I haven't forgotten. And I'm not sure I've forgiven, either. The fact that a fake prom so far from where I grew up has the power to trigger all my buried outrage and bring it crashing back like it only happened yesterday, is a testimony to the power that cruelty has. It has the power to make me forget, or at least minimize, the fact that I did go to a prom, in another town, with a guy not from my high school. He liked me more than I liked him. He was not the guy I'd have gone with, had I been "cool" enough to be offered a choice of dates; still, I showed him mercy, because he was an even bigger geek than I was. He didn't know what a loser I was to all my peers. To him, I was actually pretty. For his sake I put on a brave face and a beautiful outfit. How elegant I looked in my own hand-made royal-blue strapless moiré dress and my mom's black elbow gloves (a damn sight better than these tacky little prats, that's for sure.)

And yeah, I made the dress myself. Pleated overbodice, six-inch-wide sash, floor-length skirt, the works. And the black organdy ruffled shawl, too. See what happens when you apply yourself in Home Ec, girls? And don't you guys wish your girlfriends were hot--and SMART--like me?

But this makes it hard to remember that. It has the power to make me forget that I'm not the ostracized kid anymore, that I quit being that kid even in my last year at high school, where I began to morph into an adult whom other adults actually like. It even has the power to make me forget, for a moment, just how strong I really am.

And that strength didn't come out of nowhere; it came out of being that excluded, bullied kid. Maybe it's made me a better adult, a better listener, a more worthwhile person to talk to and with?

Maybe.

One thing it definitely HAS made me is glad that I don't fit in, after all. Because if fitting in among the bullies who made my youth hell is such a prize, I don't want it. I'd have to turn into a piece of shit just like them. What's that old saying? "Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat", I believe is how it goes. Nope; no rodent here. Just a human being who doesn't need to pretend superiority.

And one who admires the hell out of Constance for taking you all on and showing you all up. She's got more class in her left pinky-nail than all of you have in your collective, pathetic, self-justifying carcass.

So yeah, bigoted kiddies, knock yourselves out claiming that you are the bullied ones, being shat on by northerners, gay revolutionary ACLUers, and people from the two coasts and God only knows where all else. Whine your sorry asses off about how everybody else looks down on you (as if YOU had a monopoly on pusillanimous shitheadedness!) Go play your smarmy phony victim card until it wears the hell out.

And it will, soon. Because it's flimsy. And because the rest of the world isn't stupid; it knows what lengths you went to in order to make sure your precious widdle prom was queer- and crip-cootie-free. That much secrecy takes planning and co-ordination. It takes a lot of complicity. It also takes massive amounts of cowardice. Not one of you kids had the stones to defy your parents, your school board, or your picky-picky peers; you are all a bunch of fucking wimps! You think you avoided "drama" by excluding Constance and her same-sex date, and a tiny bunch of disabled kids? HA! You just brought it on yourselves, ten-thousandfold. You deserve the shitstorm that you've got coming now.

And I, for one, will be pointing the finger at you and laughing when the verdict comes down against you. Because I love seeing the shoe go on the other foot, and pinching. It's not nice, I know. But it is satisfying. And it is so very, very richly deserved.

Sucks to be you, kids. Here, have another song. And try learning how to dance without that graceless booty-humping you did at your "drama-free" prom, 'kay? That shit's no cooler than your overt, deliberate cruelty was.

April 1, 2010

This one's for you, Constance McMillen

My best friend sent me this link, and writes:

Let's see if I can state this clearly.

The courts said the lesbian's rights were violated, but that it wouldn't mandate the school host the prom since there was an alternative one being held by parents. (It wouldn't mandate the school host so long as the alternative included same-sex couples.)

The school officials told the courts that the private prom being organized by parents would be inclusive of everyone.

(It wasn't -- it also excluded same-sex dates.)

The private prom people said "OK -- you can come" but made it difficult for the lesbian to try and get a ticket -- and even though she tried, she didn't get a ticket.

The private prom has been cancelled as a result. (Fears of being sued.)

A pro-diversity group has stepped in and is hosting a prom where all are welcome. But of course the school and parents are doing their best to make sure the students feel the lesbian "ruined prom" (because a prom hosted by the wrong type of people would not be acceptable as we all know.)

I hope this young woman moves away to go to college where she can live among RATIONAL people!

Me too...hence the song. I'm thinking specifically of the line that goes "And I'm leavin' Mississippi with the radio on..."

I hope that whenever Constance gets out of that southern-fried bigot-fest, she leaves with the radio on. And that she's singing at the top of her lungs, and not looking back.

Chin up, little sister.

March 4, 2010

Cindy Sheehan on Contragolpe

Watch live streaming video from aporrea at livestream.com

VTV's Vanessa Davies hosts Cindy Sheehan and Eva Golinger, author of several books on US interference in Venezuela (translating). Topics range from Cindy's peace protests at Camp Casey to imperialism and the mess that is the US political system. Not to be missed!

February 26, 2010

Keith Olbermann just tied a knot in my trachea

If you wanna know what it takes to make me cry, you're about to see for yourself:

Part I (click through for Part II) of a VERY special commentary.

If this doesn't make you damn the devils--Sarah Fucking Palin and Betsy Fucking McCaughey--I don't know what will. The US needs its Tommy Douglas, and IT HASN'T GOT ONE.

Good night and good luck, indeed.

February 17, 2010

Is the History Channel turning into FUX Snooze?

The reason I ask is because they're putting together a documentary of the Kennedy clan which sounds positively atrocious:

Fixating on JFK banging some floozy in a swimming pool while "Secret Service Man #2" looks uncomfortably on? Twisting timelines on crucial events? Virtually excluding the Bay of Pigs invasion (and its inevitable fallout, the Cuban Missile Crisis) from the story, while obsessing over how Jack, Bobby, Ted and their old man Joe were constantly chasing tail? That's a history FAIL. One might as well just make a "Kennedy" porno and release it on the Playboy Channel instead.

Oh yeah, and if you're as pissed about this travesty as I am, go here and sign the petition.

February 10, 2010

El Ecuadorable is da man, again

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"Don't worry, René, we got your back!" Ah oui, c'est très Ecuadorable, non?

This does my heart some good...

On Tuesday, at the Unasur summit, the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, signed an executive decree legalizing all citizens of Haiti who have been in Ecuador before January 31, 2010.

The proceeding, which also benefits spouses and minor children who entered the country under the same conditions, grants a non-immigrant visa, valid for five years, free of charge.

This is one of the decisions taken by the government of Ecuador as part of its humanitarian-aid plan for citizens of Haiti affected by the earthquake of January 12.

Translation mine.

Let's hope it does some good for Haiti, too.

(And hey, Raffy...let some more of 'em in if they need a place to stay, y'hear?)

February 8, 2010

Gaza in Plain Language

A short documentary that lays out what really happened there, and dares to ask why:

No matter how one feels about Israel's right to exist (and I for one think it has one, as does Palestine, in equal measure)--in light of the full facts about the attack on Gaza last year, no one who is truly honest can say it was "self-defence", much less measured.

And isn't it ironic how a nation composed of people who survived one holocaust, has turned around to become a perpetrator of the very crime--genocide--it once swore never to let happen again?

I should also add that what happened in Gaza is deeply un-kosher. And there is no shortage of Jews, in and outside of Israel, who condemn it for that very reason.

Short 'n' Stubby: Haiti roundup (and ripoffs), part troisième

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In lieu of Ms. Manx, a little something to (hopefully) make you laugh. Now, on to the not-so-funny...

VTV has a short documentary out about the "humanitarian" invasion of Haiti, in which several Venezuelan professors discuss the militarization of aid, the intent to intimidate the ALBA countries (which have been at the forefront of relief efforts), and the stupidities of Pat "Kill Hugo Chávez" Robertson and his racism.

To date, Venezuelan medical relief teams have treated 11,896 Haitians and counting.

Fidel Castro praises the Venezuelan relief effort. Hey, you're not doing so badly yourself, old man.

A mob of Dominicans has assaulted a Puerto Rican ship carrying relief supplies to Haiti. Police and the Dominican military intervened, but some of the cargo still walked off in the hands of the looters. The motive? Poverty and hunger are also major problems in the Dominican Republic.

Lula won't be attending the UNASUR special summit in Quito, Ecuador, on Haiti. The problem: high blood pressure. Lula hasn't travelled out of Brazil all year, on medical advice. He will, however, be sending his international-affairs advisor, Marco Aurelio García.

Johann Hari takes hope from the fact that the IMF backed down on its latest attempt to further mire Haiti in debt, corruption and general misery.

Wade Davis, probably the foremost foreign expert on Haiti, talks to National Geographic about Patwa's bigoted idiocies, and what Haitian Voudou is really all about. Don't miss it!

Meanwhile, Dominican troops have arrested a Venezuelan on suspicions of child trafficking at a checkpoint near Montecristi. No word yet on his associations (if any), but I smell an escualido.

February 3, 2010

Quotable: John Perkins on the Haiti disaster

"We are encouraged to believe that USAID, the World Bank, and other institutions are truly philanthropic, there to serve the best interests of the people and the country. However, the reality is that, in previous cases -- such as the Asian tsunami -- much of this aid is employed to help huge multinational companies gain a strangle-hold on resources (including cheap labor) and markets. Instead of helping local fisherman, farmers, restaurant, and bed and breakfast owners rebuild their devastated businesses, the money is invested in projects that benefit the Krafts, Chiquitas, Monsantos, Marriotts, and big box restaurant chains of the world.

"In the case of Haiti, we also must not forget history. In the early 1800s the country declared its independence from France and proclaimed itself "slave-free." The French sued the new nation, stating that the loss of the slaves had negatively impacted the French economy. It was just one in a series of actions taken by foreign powers to subjugate Haiti. US Marines invaded in 1915 and occupied the nation for 19 years; ever since Haiti has been the haunt of corporate executives and government officials who have corrupted one leader after another.

"While the earthquake happened in an instant, it took years of corporatocracy actions to create such a poverty-ridden country. There was no way Haiti could respond to a 7.0 earthquake because the misguided policies and interventions stripped it of any potential it might have had for surviving such a major traumatic event."

--John Perkins, "The Tremor Felt Round the World"

February 2, 2010

The Washington Post lies--Haitians want foreign military troops out!

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The other day, I noted that the Washington Post was full of shit regarding Haiti. Today, an item in Aporrea confirms what I suspected: Haiti's poor may want and need aid, but they don't want it at gunpoint...from anywhere:

The opposition to the international military presence in Haiti consists mainly of followers of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in 2004 and 1991 in coups attributed to the influence of Washington, and is based in neighborhoods such as Cité Soleil or Bel Air, where murals of Aristide's face reside alongside graffiti of Bob Marley and Martin Luther King.

"Aristide built everything here, and the Brazilians destroyed it," says a man named Jean, in one of the ruined streets of Bel Air, to a correspondent of the Brazilian newspaper, Folha de São Paulo. The Brazilians form the main contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

One of the main tasks of MINUSTAH has been to disarm groups loyal to Aristide between 2004 and 2007. The Brazilian soldiers "are not our friends. They killed our people," said a director of Popular Masses, Vanel Louis Paul.

Other sectors of the population are more favorable to the presence of MINUSTAH, whose military direction comes from Brazil, but the Folha correspondent underscored that a "radicalized sector" exists, which the international mission is well aware of.

"We will not stop watching closely and with concern the actions of the partisans of Aristide, in spite of the weakness of their position", said the communications chief of the Brazilian battalion of MINUSTAH, Colonel Alan Santos.

Every year on the 28th of February, in Port-au-Prince, Aristide supporters demonstrate, recalling the coup d'état of 2004 and calling for the departure of MINUSTAH. This year, they will be joined by some 5,500 former members of armed groups, who were able to escape from prison in the earthquake of January 12.

The former president is exiled in South Africa, and has demanded to return to Haiti, promising not to run for office in the next presidential elections. However, his party, Fanmi Lavalas, still holds much influence, particularly among the poorest Haitians. "We're all over the country. We are the majority party," asserts the party president, Maryse Narcisse.

The former minister is diplomatic when speaking of the Brazilians, but still has asked for a timetable for their departure, something the UN says will not happen "for many years".

"We can't believe that MINUSTAH will be staying forever. We need international solidarity, but we must have dignity for ourselves," Narcisse said.

Translation mine.

Recall that MINUSTAH has suffered its own blow as a result of the earthquake; the building that housed its headquarters was levelled, and the leader of the mission was killed. Little wonder, then, that Washington decided to send in the Fourth Fleet...to "stabilize" and "secure" Haiti, of course. (And also to make sure that the Cuban/Venezuelan/Dominican/etc. relief efforts are stymied and limited, so that their own star can shine all the brighter. Never mind how little of the cash spent on it actually goes to Haiti.)

Meanwhile, some other foreign invaders--religious, rather than military--are also facing rejection by the Haitian people:

A woman claiming to be the mother of five of the 33 children taken by a US church group intending to remove them illegally from Haiti last Saturday, came to the local police on Monday and said she was sorry for having handed over the children.

The woman, who gave her name as Magonie, made the statement at the Judicial Police Centre (a provisional seat of the Government of Haiti) in the company of others who also said they were mothers of some of the children, and told journalists they thought their children would be better off with the US citizens.

"I gave them to the pastor (who headed the group) so he would give them a better life, but now I'm sorry I did it," said the woman, moments before police officers took her inside to make an official statement.

Translation, again, mine.

The article goes on to note that Haiti's judicial system is still in place (shocking, eh?) and that a government minister demanded that it be respected. Also that the children being taken had no official documents, and therefore were definitely being removed illegally from the country (and, it turns out, their still living parents.)

There are all kinds of hinky things about this account of supposed do-gooders trying to give poor kids a better life, but the one that leaps out most at me is the claim that they were supposedly being taken to an orphanage--still under construction--in the Dominican Republic. Why house homeless kids in an unfinished compound in another country, especially if they're not really orphans?

Again, it's just one more example of "aid" that really isn't. And that isn't anything except shameless opportunism in disguise. The sort of thing, in short, that deserves loud boos from everyone, even in the US itself.

Especially there.

January 27, 2010

Chilean ambassador criticizes US military presence in Haiti

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It's not just Evo and Chavecito making this accusation now. Get a load of who else isn't pleased with the blatant US takeover of Haiti:

The United States military was "unnecessarily aggressive" in its operations to aid Haiti after the earthquake, said the Chilean ambassador in Port-au-Prince, Marcel Young, in an interview with the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio on Tuesday.

"They forget that this (Haiti) is a sovereign country and have been unnecessarily aggressive," said Young, when asked what he thought about the arrival of US troops.

The US "has control of the international airport" and set "its own criteria--first their planes land, and then all the rest," said Young.

"The arrival of those troops was overly imposing. Even if it was positive that they re-established air traffic control, judging by the level of military presence their demonstration of force has been excessive."

Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have accused Washington of "invading" the Caribbean country instead of sending civilian aid, criticisms which disgusted the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Translation mine.

Let's see them try to explain THAT away as just some commie grumbling.

January 25, 2010

The Haiti disaster, through Haitian eyes

The Ciné Institute of Jacmel, Haiti, is a young film school, both in terms of its time in operation (only since 2008) and the age of its students. But in spite of the difficult economic conditions in Haiti--and they have never been more so than now--they've been able to produce powerful documentaries of what life is like there since the earthquakes.

I defy any so-called news organization to do better at conveying the human scale of the catastrophe than this.

PS: Speaking of the human scale, read Rebecca Solnit's piece in The Nation. She nails it, too.

January 24, 2010

ALBA solidarity at work in Haiti

Look who's not sitting on their hands--or letting the US dictate to them what aid can or can't get through...

The ALBA countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.) are delivering their convoys through the neighboring Dominican Republic. Smart move, and one that's bound to smart (in the other sense of the word) for the wannabe re-colonizers of Haiti.

January 18, 2010

Your attention, please...

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Yes, these badges are real, and were worn by security contractors trained by an obscure Hungarian mercenary named Tibor Revesz, at Glengad Beach, Ireland, while "defending" the Corrib Gas Project from the objections of peaceful protesters.

Commenter Ruairi Delaney has asked for signatures on this petition to suspend Shell's infamous Corrib Gas Project in Ireland.

The Corrib project, as some of you may be aware, formerly employed (via a contractor, I-RMS) at least one of the would-be assassins of Evo Morales as a security guard, and is still brutalizing Irish citizens and the fragile coastal environment of the Emerald Isle. It is also notorious for having basically bought out the Irish government.

I've added my signature to the petition, and also joined the Facebook group. If you care about corporations subverting democracy (or trying to), feel free to add your voice.

Haiti: The UNtold story

If you're wondering why aid has so much trouble reaching Haiti, here's a broad and rather interesting hint, in video form. Those who've been trying to "help" Haiti for years have in fact been actively weakening it because the uppity niggruhs keep trying to elect the "wrong" candidate. And when those aforementioned uppities turn out in the streets to protest the obvious foreign interference in their democratic process, guess what happens? Here's another hint...

Criminalizing dissent. It's the Amurrican Way.

And Canada is being dragged along into this quagmire of utter disgrace, as are the Brazilians--who were chosen specifically because of their color and affinity for the Haitians.

January 17, 2010

Amazing! CNN reports positively on Cuban doctors, for a change

Finally, the Chicken Noodle Network reports something in a way that's not so chicken-noodly. Steve Kastenbaum shows Cuban and Cuban-trained Latin American medical crews at work, saving lives in Haiti. They were able to set up their field hospitals in very short order, thanks to the fact that Cuban healthcare has long been geared to providing emergency aid on a large scale; Cuba, like Haiti, is heavily prone to natural disasters, as well as the constant threat of invasion from just ninety miles offshore. They are also used to providing troops and medics to poor countries abroad, such as Angola. The fact that their doctors can provide quality care on a shoestring budget isn't news to me, or to Michael Moore, but it's apparently astonishing to CNN and their usual audience, who have few if any good impressions about Cuban medicine.

Now that the US is finally aware of how dedicated the Cubans really are to nonprofit medicine, will the Venezuelan oppos realize that the Cuban doctors treating the poor in THEIR country are for real?

(Thanks to my friend Corey for directing me to the video.)

PS: By way of contrast, look what El Duderino has found on the way the US is handling their "aid" mission. Leaves a lot to be desired compared to Cuba, no?

PPS: Also, Greg Palast is God.

January 16, 2010

Quotable: Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Haiti and exile

"As we all know, many people remain buried under tons of rubble and debris, waiting to be rescued. When we think of their suffering, we feel deeply and profoundly that we should be there, in Haiti, with them, trying our best to prevent death. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time, to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity.

"The spirit of Ubuntu, that once led Haiti to emerge as the first independent black nation in 1804, helped Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador attain liberty, and inspired our forefathers to shed their blood for the United States' independence, cannot die. Today, this spirit of solidarity must and will empower all of us to rebuild Haiti."

--Jean-Bertrand Aristide, on Democracy Now!

January 15, 2010

Haiti: A three-minute primer

Ever wonder why Haiti is poor? Hint: it's punishment for that slave revolt that led to liberty in 1804, the one Patwa calls a "deal with the devil". Turns out, the devil...was France. (Zut alors!) And the deal...entailed a debt that took over a century to pay back, and still has Haiti mired in a cycle of debts, dictatorships and dependency. Only this time, the devil is the IMF. Whaddya know, it turns out that Satan really IS a master of disguise--and no, his name is not Papa Legba! (Legba is actually syncretized to St. Peter. He is likened to Peter because he opens the "pearly" gates to the spirit world, enabling Voudou practitioners to speak with the saintly figures called loa, and also their ancestors. And yes, I've paid him tribute too--and can attest that he is a beneficent old guy who listens. And he doesn't care what color you are, either.)

BTW, the only things in Avi Lewis's otherwise excellent reporting that I'd take issue with is that problematic "some say" bit (who are these "some"? Don't do like FUX Snooze, Avi--let's see "them" say it on camera!) and the part about Toto Constant "claiming" to be on the CIA payroll (uh, he was.)

PS: Far be it from me to not give credit where due. France has just called upon the Paris Club for debt forgiveness for Haiti. A wise move, and good for the karma. Très bien fait!

January 14, 2010

More earthquake footage from Haiti

This was taken by a roadway security camera at the time of the quake. Watch the houses in the background as the shaking starts; they collapse one by one, domino-like, in clouds of dust.

January 13, 2010

How to help Haiti

I donated at Avaaz, which puts 100% of the money raised toward recovery and rebuilding. You can too; clicky here.

Friends on Facebook also recommend the Red Cross (click here for Canada), Doctors Without Borders, and this article by Naomi Klein. Because disaster capitalism never sleeps, and neither should those who oppose it.

Haiti earthquake: Some early photos and video

Via Aporrea, two YouTubes. Some photos:

And some video:

Aporrea is also reporting that the UN chief-of-mission in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, has been killed in the 7.3 magnitude quake. The UN building (and that of MINUSTAH) has been destroyed, along with at least one hospital and a prison building (from which several inmates are reported to have escaped.)

Natural disasters hit Haiti harder than anyplace else on Earth because of its poverty; El Duderino reminds us of why Haiti is so poor in the first place, and why it is also so vulnerable to coups planned from just a few hundred miles offshore. (Coups which, incidentally, have disgraced my own home and native land, and shame me as a Canadian.)

In a way, the destruction of the MINUSTAH headquarters seems like poetic justice, since MINUSTAH was originally there to prop up a government that the people of Haiti did not elect, and overstayed its welcome considerably--and under protest. Its real mission is unclear, but its apparent mission is to make sure that the original elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, doesn't get back into office in any way, shape or form. Its stated mission was to distribute aid and fight crime, but it seems to have been complicit in its share of crime and has been less than effective in distributing aid--except to foreign NGOs, of which there is certainly no shortage in Haiti, whatever else is lacking.

And there is a lot more lacking in that little country now.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's response was quick and to the point: They sent doctors and are gathering non-perishable food, clothing, medicines, etc. Solidarity in action, rather than endless preachy words. No wonder the Haitians gave Chavecito a hero's welcome last time he showed up in person. They will again, I'll bet, when they're back on solid ground.

Seguid el ejemplo qué Caracas dió...

UPDATES: Some other Canadian content on this story. A Progressive Bloggers member is worried about her parents, who are currently in Haiti and unaccounted for. Another Canadian citizen in the country texted for help, and got it. Meanwhile, a Canadian nurse is confirmed to be among the dead.

January 8, 2010

Dear right wingers: You can stop SHRIEEEEKing now.

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German Muslims protest the exportation of Wahhabism and terrorism from Saudi Arabia; in this case, specifically, to Iraq. Note the date on the picture. Muslims protesting against Islamist terrorism is hardly new or unique, no matter what wingnuts are saying to the contrary.

Dear wingnuts:

You finally got what you've been bellowing for. Muslims just stepped up to the plate to protest Islamist terrorism today.

Now you can just STFU.

Really.

Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney, said Sunday afternoon that Muslims need to let the world know that those who would commit terrorism do not represent Islam.

"It's very frustrating to know that these guys are using Islam and committing terror," he said. "Islam stands for peace."

His Facebook group, Dearborn Area Community Members, is calling for local Muslims to hold a protest during the scheduled Jan. 8 hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old was charged Saturday with trying to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Friday. He told federal authorities he was acting on orders from Al Qaeda.

Well, guess what? That protest happened today, and got coverage...even on FUX, which used AP wire reportage (predictably skimpy). Still, for FUX, that's really saying something.

ABC did a bit better, with video.

A local paper, the Dearborn (MI) Press and Guide noted that several Islamic leaders, plus a Muslim woman who was on board the flight that the would-be suicide bomber tried to blow up, also stepped forward to denounce terrorism...in the name of Islam:

Shortly before he appeared in court, Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights and other Muslims spoke at a press conference, condemning terrorism in the name of Islam.

Among those with Elahi were Victor Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; Imam Mustapha Elturk of the Islamic Organization of North America; and Imam Mohammad Mardini of the American Muslim Center in Dearborn. The meeting was sponsored by the council and was held at the Michigan Round Table for Diversity and Inclusion in Detroit.

Each imam condemned all acts of terrorism as crimes against humanity and supported law enforcement agencies in their efforts to protect their fellow citizens, while preserving civil rights.

Also at the press conference was Hebba Aref, a passenger on the flight from Amsterdam. She, too, spoke against terrorists targeting innocent people.

And just to further shush the shrieeeeekers, look what a group of North American imams also did today:

The 20 imams associated with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said this marked the first fatwa by the Muslim clergy declaring attacks on Canada and the U.S. to be attacks on Muslims.

"In our view, these attacks are evil, and Islam requires Muslims to stand up against this evil," the imams said in their fatwa.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said attacks on Canadian or U.S. soil are essentially attacks on Muslims.

"We are part of this society," he said. "This is my home, and if anybody attacks on Canada, in fact, attacks on my home."

The imams said it is a duty of every Muslim in Canada and the U.S. to safeguard the two countries.

"They must expose any person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who would cause harm to fellow Canadians or Americans," they said.

"It is religious obligation upon Muslims, based upon the Qur'anic teachings, that we have to be loyal to the country where we live," said Soharwardy. "We have no problems in Canada; we can practise our religion freely."

Whoa...Muslim imams using a fatwa to protect western society and religious freedom?

Gee, it sure sounds to me like the imams value the freedom of religion that we all enjoy here in Canada. And it sounds an awful lot like they value their fellow Canadians, too, regardless of religion. It even sounds like they have no problem abiding by the laws of the land!

And above all, it sounds like they ARE speaking out against Islamist terrorism. In fact, they've been doing it for several years already. If you wingnuts weren't shriiiiieeeeking so goddamned loudly, maybe you'd have heard about it.

And if you don't believe me, do your own Google search. Type in "Muslims protest terrorist" or "Muslims protest terrorism". Go on. I dare ya. See how many news links you get. Have fun reading them all.

And in the meantime, just STFU.

December 28, 2009

Goodbye, Blue Monday...

Excuse me, the Internets have an announcement to make:

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Damn. I never even knew there WAS such a thing, and now it's been cancelled on me!

I think I need a drink.

Oh, and speaking of "need a drink", read this and weep in thy beer, O my friend and neighbor to the south of us:

Here are a few truths: First, we've been living in a one-dollar, one-vote corporatized democracy for a long time. If this is news to you, then you're probably also shocked to learn that the U.S. Constitution, by awarding two senators to each of what H.L. Mencken called "the cow states" -- no insult to the cows in my own barn -- was deliberately crafted to make fundamental change difficult. Who made "moderates" like Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Joe Lieberman of Aetna mini-presidents? Alas, the founding fathers did.

Living in such a polity, anybody who thought entrenched interests like the insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital industries weren't going to find ways to make money off healthcare reform probably wasn't paying attention back at the beginning, when Obama said that despite the abstract appeal of a Canadian-style single-payer system, it was a political non-starter.

Really, Gene? Really, Barack? Our single-payer system up here, which is popular with nine out of ten of us, and which could bring down even a majority Conservative government if it ever foolishly tried to gut it, is just an "abstract" one? You "free", "independent" Yanks are that powerless against the corporations down there? Or are you just that cowardly? What do you have a government for, if not to put a leash on those snarling, dog-eating dogs, and muzzle them?

Oh, I get it. The dogs are the ones holding the leash in the United States of Amnesia, and with a wad of Benjamins, they muzzle YOU.

Spare us the old Soviet Union jokes, we've heard them all before.

Good thing Tommy Douglas is a-moldering in his grave, or he'd chew your asses up so badly, you'd never sit down again. He faced as much pressure from the forces of "free market medicine" as any US president ever could, but he didn't back down. Even when doctors went on strike in Saskatchewan, he just brought in doctors from elsewhere who were willing to take up the slack until those misguided MDs realized their mistake and came into the fold.

In Venezuela, it was so bad that Chavecito brought in Cuban doctors, as did Evo in Bolivia. Both of them had the gonads to go up against the oligarchs of their respective countries and do it, just as Tommy Douglas had the gonads to do here.

So, Barack, where are YOUR 'nads at?

And sorry, Gene, but imperfection is NOT a start...except to an even bigger débâcle down the road. Forcing fellow-citizens to buy insurance they couldn't afford in the first place is not going to provide them with the care they need. It will, however, help ensure that they can't afford a house, or a car, or maybe even food and clothing. All of which they're gonna need before they need a doctor or a hospital.

No, this gradualist approach is NOT going to lead to gradual improvements. It's going to lead to people avoiding care for as long as they can, until an emergency drives them to it.

And you can never underestimate the stupid stubbornness, or the stubborn stupidity, of a conservative, either. They WILL hold out until an emergency, or death, whichever comes first. They will spend the duration of their nasty, brutish and short lives muttering under their breath about how hard they work for their money, and about the dangers of relying on Big Government.

And for once they may be right, although not the way in which they think they are. In the US, government is beholden to Big Money. All US governments, Democratic or Republican, are conservative that way. Even FDR didn't make good on his early impulse to de-fang Wall Street! And a government beholden to moneyed interests is a government doomed to the distrust of its own citizens no matter their political affiliations. That distrust, of course, is richly deserved, because the citizens are the ones who will be left out in the cold. Unless, mirabile dictu, the government grows a spine and tells Big Money to go screw. And understands that it will have to fight--REALLY fight--for what's right.

Tommy Douglas saw that coming when he took the plunge in Saskatchewan, and did what the progressives of that province elected him to do. No gradualism for him; he knew what was right. He didn't go halfsies, and neither should anyone else whose intention it is to provide universal healthcare.

Now, I REALLY need a drink.

December 23, 2009

Copenhagen flops, Evo is tops

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Hey Barack, how's it feel to get pwned by the Little Injun That Could?

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced today that a world conference of social movements is to take place in Bolivia, as a response to the failure of the 15th Summit on Climate Change, recently held in Copenhagen.

"The problems of climate change are directly linked to the irrational development of industry," said the president at the celebrations for the 49th anniversary of the foundation of the Culpina municipality, in the region of Chuquisaca.

Morales said that he has requested technical and scientific arguments to support a large-scale international mobilization to defend the environment, especially water.

The meeting will take place on April 22, which is the International Day of Mother Earth.

"It will be a great meeting where we'll be able to come up with solutions for the problem of climate change," the leader said.

He regretted that the summit held in Copenhagen had concluded without reaching any important agreement. However, he noted that the event was an opportunity to break the hegemony of industrialized countries attending the gathering.

"If we don't make important decisions now, our children and the generations to come will be faced with serious problems," warned the president.

He pointed out that the Bolivian world conference of social movements will be aimed at finding options for guaranteeing food for the peoples, in view of the famine that is affecting different parts of the world.

Notice that this is not a summit of heads-of-state, who, as we've seen all too clearly from Copenhagen, are prostrate to moneyed interests and are thus in no position to take leadership on this key issue. Instead, Evo is calling for social movements and scientists from around the world to come together and come up with actual working solutions, not just more non-binding wimpy "agreements" that don't even look good on paper.

And if you wonder why this was called by Evo and not, say, his bigger, louder pal Chavecito, consider one of the things he himself mentioned: water. It's been a hot-button issue in Bolivia for many years now, and no wonder: first the moneyed interests (the same that are sitting on Washington's neck right now) privatized Bolivia's water, right down to the rain; then, a coalition of social movements, including the coca farmers led by Evo back when he was just a shit-disturbing union leader, booted Bechtel out of Bolivia (and their pal Goni the Gringo, too); and now, with global warming destroying the glaciers the indigenous people rely on for water, once more they can't afford to take this life-sustaining resource for granted. (Remember, we're talking about a landlocked country, and half of it is in the relatively arid Andes.)

Evo, who comes from the Altiplano himself, knows as well as anyone how precious water is in Bolivia; they can't just pump it out of the sea, and they can't rely on reservoirs because it doesn't rain heavily enough to sustain them in all parts of the country. In the Altiplano, their lakes are fed by Andean glacial meltwater, and that source is rapidly draining away! So, now we understand Evo's urgency on this matter, don't we?

Looks like Evo is taking a leadership role yet again. Some people could learn a lot from this guy...and not just on how to dress, either.

December 10, 2009

How very convenient...

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Why are these mothers still marching? Because justice has not been served...and their children are still missing.

Isn't it funny how many repressors from the dictatorial age of the Argentine junta are getting away with murder--literally? Look who's going to miss his own trial:

The repressor Alfredo Astiz was admitted to the Naval hospital in Buenos Aires, 24 hours before the beginning of the trial for the Task Force which operated in the Navy Mechanics' School (ESMA) during the last military dictatorship.

Astiz was transferred from the Marcos Paz penitentiary, where he was in preventive custody, due to an apparent complication of a kidney tumor.

The hospitalization of Astiz makes it unlikely that he will be present for the opening of the trial which Oral Tribunal No. 5 (TOF 5) will begin on Friday for 19 repressors, for crimes against humanity committed at the ESMA.

Among the 19 who will be tried, along with Astiz, are Jorge "El Tigre" Acosta, Antonio Pernías, Jorge Rádice, Juan Carlos Rolón, Carlos Capdevilla, and Ricardo Miguel Cavallo.

Among the crimes for which they will be tried are the kidnapping and disappearance of the journalist Rodolfo Walsh, and the French nuns Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon.

The trial against the ESMA torturers has already been suspended twice. The first time, it was postponed due to proceedings for crimes committed in the Campo de Mayo jurisdiction, in which life sentences were handed out to ex-subcommander Jorge Olivera Roverre and ex-colonel Bernardo Menéndez. Three other chiefs were acquitted. Later, the trial was again postponed because one of the tribunal judges had to be replaced.

This Thursday, from noon to midnight, several human-rights organizations will be holding a Resistance March, which takes place every December 10, at the Plaza de Mayo, in memory of the 30,000 disappeared persons.

The 29th march will be headed by the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, HIJOS, families of the disappeared and political prisoners, and Siblings. Among other things they are calling for the living reappearance of Julio López, the witness who disappeared just before the trial of the repressor, Miguel Etchecolatz.

Translation mine. Linkage added.

The comments at the site are full of anger, as well they might be. Alfredo Astiz is one of the most infamous of the ESMA's many foul repressors. Along with the murders of the French nuns, who had worked with the poor in the farming province of Corrientes, he is also known to have infiltrated the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, pretending he had lost a brother to the dictatorship. It was a lie, of course. As was Astiz's later claim that he was "just following orders". One of the leading Mothers wound up being "disappeared" herself; that was Astiz's doing.

Up to now, Astiz has gone largely unpunished. What justice has found him, has been at the hands of ordinary citizens taking revenge the only way they could. According to Marguerite Feitlowitz's A Lexicon of Terror,

The first assault was in the ski resort of San Carlos de Bariloche. Astiz and a female companion were waiting for the bus to take them to the slopes, when the Blond Angel [Astiz] was recognized by a former detainee in the camp called Vesuvius. "All I could see were [the Mothers'] white kerchiefs," said the assailant, Alfredo Chávez, a witness at the trial of the ex-commanders. "Son of a bitch! Killer of adolescents!" he yelled, and punched Astiz in the nose. [...] Encouraged by the [navy], Astiz filed suit. For counsel he retained Pedro Bianchi, the lawyer who was defending Erich Priebke, the Nazi who, until his extradition, lived close to the Bariloche ski resort. The next attack took place in greater Buenos Aires; the assailants this time were two brothers, age nineteen and twenty, taking their dog to the vet. [...] En route, a car pulled in front of them, blocking their way. From behind his window, the driver, Astiz, taunted the boys with an obscene gesture. The captain was recognized by the younger brother. Though this attack was worse, neither Astiz nor the navy reported it to the police. No one came to the captain's defense as the brothers pulled him from his car, hit him so hard in the mouth his dental plate popped out, then bashed in the hood of his vehicle. "Good boys! Kill him!" yelled a woman through the open window of a bus. [...] The boys' father, a devoutly religious man, did not defend his sons' behavior, but offered an explanation that struck a chord with many parents with whom I spoke: "This is what happens after you're obliged to tell your children that justice here doesn't function as it should, that the courts refused to castigate the most horrendous crimes of a horrendous dictatorship."

What the father said explains a lot, does it not?

This is why, in Argentina, there is still so much unresolved. The courts are often stacked with old repressors or their sympathizers; the police and military ranks likewise. Corrupt politicians are as common as dirt. With "authorities" like that, is it any wonder that ordinary citizens are reduced to hauling known repressors like Astiz out of their cars and beating the shit out of them?

And is it any wonder that the HIJOS, the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the "reappeared" ones, and so many others, hold these big annual protest marches?

Until there is real change in Argentina, this seems to be the form that justice will take--a combination of angry, impulsive outbursts and dignified organized protests that make so much noise that no one could miss them.

(Muchas gracias to Otto for drawing my attention to this story.)

December 6, 2009

Remembering the Montréal Massacre, 20 years later

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The fatal victims of the Montréal Massacre of December 6, 1989. Top row, left to right: Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St.-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Geneviève Bergeron
Bottom row: Hélène Colgan, Maryse Leclaire, Maryse Laganière, Maud Haviernick, Michèle Richard, Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier

20 years ago, I was a student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I was also a volunteer at the university women's centre.

I say "volunteer", but truthfully, there wasn't much to do there, even if there was a lot of will to do things on the part of that one little clutch of women. The late 1980s were something of a black hole for feminism. A lot of people thought that the main goals of the movement had been achieved, and that what was left of the movement had to be nothing but a bunch of radical, man-hating lesbians who didn't shave their legs.

We knew it wasn't like that. We had some lesbians, yes--and some radicals, yes. But we weren't all lesbians, or even all that radical. And man-haters? Definitely not. I'm straight, and my best friend is a gay man; my radicalism was then a work in progress (still is). For the most part, we were just women, trying to raise awareness of the issues and to gain full justice for our gender. Leg-shaving wasn't even an issue with us. There was too much else going on, most of it flying completely under most people's radar.

Access to safe legal abortions was and still is under fire from the far-right here in Canada. AIDS, too, was fast becoming an issue for heterosexual women; today, they are the fastest-growing group of HIV-infected persons. And domestic violence hadn't exactly gone away, either. Date rape, usually involving alcohol and/or drugs, was a growing problem, particularly on university campuses (it's even worse now.) And working women had yet to earn more than 65 cents to a man's dollar (they still haven't come anywhere near 65 cents today, either). Male students on our campus mocked an anti-date-rape campaign with window signs reading "NO MEANS MORE BEER", "NO MEANS SHE'S A DYKE", "NO MEANS KICK HER IN THE TEETH", and other equally charming sentiments. These were the things we concerned ourselves with, back in the dying days of the smug, complacent 1980s.

But that smugness and complacency were all-enveloping, even stifling. Apathy was about the only thing that ran rampant on our campus, other than hordes of drunken, purple-dyed engineers during Frosh Week. For that reason, we felt isolated. (Isolation is an oppression unto itself.) There wasn't much to do at the centre, other than log the occasional incoming phone call, or help a rare visitor check out a book from the centre's tiny library. Most of my time there I spent reading those books myself, contributing to my informal education with an undeclared minor in women's studies. Often I found myself wondering when and if I would ever get to put this newfound knowledge to use. More often, it felt like just a small group of women, maybe a dozen in all, that got together to socialize now and then, and talk politics rather than family over the dinner table.

I remember one potluck dinner we had, when I drank too many glasses of wine and walked euphorically home in minus-20 weather without my hat and gloves, and with my coat undone, thinking what fun it had been, what amazing women they all were, and how great and strange it was that I couldn't feel the cold. I walked alone, not the least bit scared--it's easy to take back the night when the streets are deserted anyway! Later, when I got into bed, I had something worse than the bed-spins: I found myself unable to breathe in the warm, stuffy room. I kept myself awake that night with gruesome thoughts, reminding myself to breathe, and breathe, and breathe. Not so euphoric, after all.

But that night paled in comparison to something else that happened later on.

In the early morning hours of December 6, 1989, I had a particularly vivid and baffling dream. In it, I was with a group of women, and we were all wearing beautiful dresses in various bright colors, with beaded trim, and wreaths of silk flowers in our hair. We were dancing in circles around a silver fountain in some indoor atrium, to electronic pop music. Suddenly, the record stuck. Then came a rapid-fire banging noise, that at first sounded like part of the song's beat, but wasn't. It was gunshots. The women scattered in panic and hid. Then another song began to play--"The First Noel". The women came out of hiding again, but this time, very solemnly, they gathered around the fountain in little clusters, with their arms around each other. I looked and saw that some of the women were wearing badges of a purple fabric with some indistinct crest embroidered on it in gold and silver thread, and was told that this was the symbol of feminist mourning.

Then I woke up.

I wrote the dream down in my diary, then promptly forgot about it and just went on with my day as usual: breakfast, classes, lunch, more classes, supper. By that time I was so caught up in my end-of-semester essays (ah, the joys of being an English major!) that I had completely forgotten my dream. I settled down on the couch to read a bit and scratch out some notes before heading to my typewriter.

Then the phone rang. It was Bridget, a fellow volunteer at the Women's Centre. She told me something that ran through me like a lightning bolt: A gunman had opened fire at a Montréal university, and fourteen people were dead. All were women. Apparently the man had separated the people in the room by gender before opening fire, claiming he was at war against feminists. Those were his words, in French. Je lutte contre les feministes!

I walked to my bedroom in a daze. I lit the candle on the little goddess-altar I had built on my dresser, then sank to the floor in shock. Fourteen women dead--for being "feminists"!

And it had happened at a university.

I was in university.

It could have happened anywhere.

It could have happened here.

It could have been any woman.

It could have been me.

I walked around in limbo for several days after that. I don't remember much of what I did then, only that I attended a vigil in one of the big lecture halls. There was a space down in front that was women-only, and I sat there. It wasn't some radical separatist thing; it was a need for the comfort of my own, my sisters. Someone tied a scrap of purple fabric--sweatsuit fleece, by the looks of it--around the sleeve of my coat.

The badge of feminist mourning.

The woman next to me was young and pretty, a student too. I knew her only vaguely as the friend of a friend; her name, I think, was Robin. She was rather short and plump, with honey-colored hair and a friendly, roundish face; she wore glasses. She took my hand, and then she said something surprising, innocent and utterly heartbreaking all at once: Your hands are so small!

I began to cry. And I thought, irrationally but still relevantly: Yes, my hands are so small--and that's just the problem, isn't it?

A muted soprano chorus rose up from the crowd: We are sad and grieving women, and we are singing, singing for our lives...

I joined the singing.

She held my hand throughout the service, and in the end it was strange, if small, comfort. A comfort to know that I wasn't so alone in the struggle now, that even the most complacent had been shocked awake, but a sad, cold comfort too, because fourteen women had to die in order to prove that we feminists were right--there was still so much to do!

And yes, there still is. Twenty years later, it's an ugly thought that we still have so much fighting left to do. Tiring, depressing--haven't we been through all this shit? Why aren't we done with it yet? Why so much more, still, now?

The Spanish word for struggle is lucha. More accurately, la lucha. It's feminine. In some parts of Latin America, Lucha is even a woman's name. Struggle, in other words, is a woman.

Es larga, la lucha. The struggle is long.

This, then, is our struggle, and that of all women:

Fourteen women died just because they were women, at the hands of a violent loser who was pissed because he couldn't make it into engineering school, 20 years ago. He wasn't smart enough, but he blamed women for his own failure. We hold memorial services, very lovely ones too, but do we really remember what it's all about?

Or do we do this to silence what we really ought to remember?

Not enough has changed since then, and what has changed, is constantly under fire--literally--from the forces of conservatism. There is now talk of scrapping the long-gun registry, which women fought for in the wake of the Montréal Massacre. Never mind that police chiefs like it, and even a lot of gun owners understand that it's no worse than a motor-vehicle registry. No, the conservatives think it's too much of a bother to keep it, just as it's too much of a bother to keep the Status of Women committee properly funded (and run by someone other than cock-sucking toadies). The conservatives are always out to fuck us over, and who gets it in the neck first? Yep--women. Same as it ever was...

Conservatism is a luxury, affordable only for the complacent, the apathetic, the ignorant. The ones who are doing all right, because they've got theirs, jack. It's telling that men go that way a lot more than women as they get older. That's because they can afford to. They still make 40 cents more on the dollar than we do! It might as well be 1959, from where we women sit. At least, back then, a dollar--or a woman's 60 cents--went further. Thanks so much for the phony liberation, capitalists! You can keep your fucking Virginia Slims, this "baby" hasn't come a long way at all.

Yoko Ono was right; we are the niggers of the world. Black, brown, yellow, white--whatever our color, we women are the underclass in every class we occupy. We've gone from slavery to sharecropping, and even now, we're still stuck in the ghetto, making less than a man but paying more. Can anyone honestly say we are not worth 3/5 of a man when they remember that we're just making 61 cents to a man's dollar after all this time? That's negritude for ya, baby.

We got the vote, but do we get what we vote for? And when we get it, do we get to keep it? And can you believe that here in Canada, we were not even considered persons until 1929? And that after all this time, there are still a shitload of crabby old coots--conservatives, in other words--who think that what little we get is entirely too much for us?

When a man gets beaten up, chances are that it's by another man, and that there is nothing sexual or gender-based in the violence. Women? Well, let's put it this way--it's rarely another woman who beats them up. Just as it's rarely a woman who beats up a man. The bulk of violence women face is distinctly gender-based, and it is directed against them, just because they are women. Worse, our culture glorifies it even more now than it did back then. In fact, a lot of people--some of them women!--will even say we had it coming, because we supposedly got too damn uppity for our own good. If only we'd stayed home, baking cookies and popping babies out of the oven like we women are supposed to (according to the female misogynist group called R.E.A.L. Women), none of this would happen...

Except it does happen to women who stay home. In fact, those are the worst-abused ones of all. Their submission grants them no protection from the violence, the misogyny and often, the alcoholism of their men. This kind of "traditional" family plays hell on the children. Just ask Patrick Stewart. Yes, TV's super-rational Captain Picard is the son of a battered housewife and an alcoholic father! Who knew?

Oh, only the world's long-suffering millions of women. We know all about that. But who listens to us? Whenever we say something about it, even if we're polite and apologetic and not offensive in the least, we get beaten down with derisive cries of "man-hating lesbian bitch". Even our own sisters shout us down!

Well, fuck that shit.

Nothing will ever get done about anything if no one raises hell. So why not us women? After all, we live in it every day. I'm getting more radical, not less, with age--and I don't care how many wimps and losers I scare off with it. The revolution, la revolución, oh look, another woman--is not for wusses. My hands may be small, but they're full of rocks, and I can hurl them a lot better now. I've had lots of time in which to do it.

Es larga, la lucha. The struggle is long. But I'm just getting started.

It's been twenty years now, and my tears are still not dry.

montreal-memorial.jpg

December 5, 2009

Yes, we CAN...haz torture inquiry

canada-tastes-good.jpg

If you wanna know why I'm happy, read what Jack Layton sent me today:

Parliament passes NDP motion for an Inquiry on torture allegations

Thank you for your email concerning the recent allegations of prisoner
torture in Afghanistan. I am providing this update on our efforts to get
to the bottom of the allegations.

On December 1, Parliament agreed to pass the motion by New Democrat
Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar calling for a public inquiry over the
torture allegations. From the start, our Party believed that a public
inquiry was needed. We welcome the support of the other opposition
parties who agree with our position.

It's now up to the Harper Conservatives to do the right thing. In
opposition, Mr. Harper spoke of a government's moral responsibility to
respect the will of Parliament, because it was ultimately the democratic
will of Canadians. We want his government to be guided by these words
and to set-up this public inquiry.

Please find attached my speech in Parliament in support of my
colleague's motion and you can visit the following link to read the text
of the full debate:

LINK 1

Canadians are understandably upset that there is a reluctance to take
responsibility for these allegations. Transferring detainees to those
whom are likely to torture them is a violation of international law.
However, the Conservative government continues to dodge and dismiss all
concerns about the treatment of prisoners. They've concealed evidence,
intimidated witnesses and obstructed the Military Police Complaints
Commission inquiry. We even heard from three Generals who told the
Afghanistan special committee that it wasn't their job to follow up on
the condition of detainees after they were handed over to Afghan
authorities.

It is clear that an inquiry is needed. Mr. Colvin's revelations deserve
to be fully examined. And, if required, the appropriate people should
be held responsible.

New Democrats have been raising concerns about prisoner transfers in
Afghanistan since 2006. For more information, please refer to:

LINK 2

Again, I appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to share my response
with anyone who may be interested. All the best.

Sincerely,

Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada's New Democrats

There you have it. A little triumph for real Canadians today.

November 29, 2009

Economics for Dummies: Why Bank of America fired a good employee

Listen to this young woman, and you will learn a lot. First off, you will learn what integrity really is; secondly, you will learn just why there is a credit crisis. (Yes, IS. Not WAS--IS. It's still there, and we may not have seen the worst of it yet.)

You will also learn a lot about human suffering and how money ties into it.

Finally, you will learn what integrity is NOT, and why Bank of America doesn't have it. When you praise somebody to high heaven even as you're firing her, you've got major cognitive dissonance going on. And you've lost a big chunk of your soul. Good luck getting it back, BoA people, you're gonna need it.

Fortunately, this lady has hers intact.

November 21, 2009

Not-so Stupid Sex Tricks: A cool way to stop global warming

Can you guess what it might be? Here's a hint:

condom-earth.jpg

And here's the scoop:

The planet's population is expected to surge to 9.2 billion from the current 6.7 billion by 2050, and many fear that such unprecedented growth will push Earth's temperatures, and thus the weight-bearing ecosystem, beyond the "breaking point."

The heaviest population growth is expected to occur in the developing world, where women do not have easy access to reproductive health services and are giving birth like jackrabbits.

India, for example, a major condom giveaway notwithstanding, is preparing for a 50 percent explosion in its numbers by 2050, topping off at 1.6 billion, thus surpassing its bursting-at-the-seams neighbor China as the most populated place.

"Women with access to reproductive health services," the UN agency said Wednesday at a conference in London, "have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse gas emissions."

Of course, as the picture strongly hints, the responsibility for lower fertility rates should not be that of women alone. Gentlemen, do your part. Don't be a fool--vulcanize your tool! (And don't forget to reduce consumption of emissions-producing fuels, either. Yes, whitey, I'm talkin' to YOU.)

November 11, 2009

Quotable: Howard Zinn on the true meaning of Remembrance Day

"Let's go back to the beginning of Veterans Day. It used to be Armistice Day, because at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I came to an end...Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches...Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism. As a combat veteran myself, of a 'good war,' against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side."

--Howard Zinn

November 10, 2009

The day Mississauga became a ghost town

Since I'm on a Gordon Lightfoot kick today, I might as well include another apt song of his to introduce this entry and set the emotional tone:

Thirty years ago today, the local nighttime news was filled with some of the scariest scenes I've ever watched. A Canadian Pacific train, number 54, en route from London, Ontario, had derailed near Mississauga, just west of Toronto. Several tankers were on fire. The contents were styrene, toluene, propane, caustic soda, and chlorine--any one of which could cause a nasty explosion if set alight.

The cause of the Mississauga wreck was seemingly small and insignificant, but it's something a trainman overlooks only at his peril. A wheel box on the 33rd car in the 106-car train had run dry of oil and overheated. Locals seeing it pass thought the train had already caught fire; the hot box was smoking and giving off bright orange sparks. As the train passed the level crossing at Burnhamthorpe Road, the axle broke and the wheels went flying, tracing a fiery arc in the air. The undercarriage of the crippled car then sagged toward the rails, eventually snagging on a switch and collapsing near Mavis Road.

The chemical tankers behind the damaged car were ruptured as they slammed into one another and then fell off the tracks. A column of flame more than a kilometre and a half high erupted into the night sky. People from as far away as 100 km could see the fire burning. Towns as far as 10 km away felt the shock waves from the blast.

In the caboose, conductor Ted Nichol was thrown against a stanchion. He looked out the window, saw the orange-and-white column of flame ahead of him, made a quick attempt to contact Pruss by walkie-talkie, then leapt out of the still-moving train, CP 54's cargo manifest in hand, and ran for his life.

Then CP 54 came to a grinding halt, followed by a second explosion.

Brakeman Larry Krupa, 27 years old at the time, took a life-saving action: he got dangerously close to the fire in order to release the brake-line couplers of the 27th car, which was the last one standing--thus freeing the front end of the train, and saving his life and that of the engineer--his own father-in-law, Keith Pruss, 52.

Then came a third explosion, so massive that it was seen as far away as Kingston, Ontario--and Buffalo, New York. Pruss and Krupa got the unharmed remainder of the train--27 cars and three locomotives--out of the area as fast as they could. The shock wave knocked down everyone standing within a kilometre radius of the scene.

Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion was 58 at the time. She got little rest that night as she made sure the first few thousand evacuees were safe in their designated disaster relief centres, then drove to Mavis Rd. to see how the fire crews' work was progressing.

Meanwhile, the first police officer at the scene, Constable Doug Rielly, who had stopped his cruiser just 400 feet away from burning cars, was trying to disperse a crowd of about 300 people who had gathered to watch, oblivious to the danger. The gawkers were none too happy to see the uniformed party-pooper, and came at him with threats and cursing. Rielly called for reinforcements. That got rid of the gawkers.

And it was a good thing, too. As Carsten Stroud wrote in "City in Flight", published in the March 1980 edition of the Canadian Reader's Digest, all of them could have ended up cremated on the spot:

Of all the disaster workers, the firemen were exposed to the greatest risk for the longest time. Struggling with bulky hoses each time they approached the fire to change the streams, they knew that sudden, violent death was at their elbow. They had all seen a training film of propane tanker fires in the United States. In one, a tanker explosion killed a camera crew 2500 yards away. These Mississauga firemen were less than 500 feet from a tangle of propane tankers already ablaze.

Emphasis as in original.

Compounding the danger of the propane fire was the tanker loaded with 90 tons of liquid chlorine "somewhere in the middle of the inferno at the Mavis Road crossing." Writes Stroud: "If it ruptured or blew up, an enormous spill of chlorine gas would bring agonizing death to everyone it enveloped." It was an extra layer of fear on top of what the firefighters were already experiencing as they strove to bring the propane blaze under control.

Luckily, the city had been prepared for just such an emergency. Mississauga did not even exist on the map until 1974, when three smaller towns, which had remained separate for over a century, were amalgamated. Any residual separatist sentiment was melted that night in the heat of the fire. Hazel McCallion, elected as mayor in 1978, had every right to feel proud of how her city was coming together in the hours and days of adversity. As an ever-expanding series of concentric circles were evacuated around the disaster zone, she oversaw the movement of 225,000 people. Not one of them was harmed--save the mayor, who sprained an ankle in all the bustling, and kept hobbling on from duty to duty regardless.

Eventually the fire crews brought the propane fires down. But the cars were still too hot to handle, and the chlorine tanker was leaking. Several firefighters inadvertently inhaled some of the gas; one, John Engel, then 33, had to be hospitalized. The danger was far from over.

Writes Stroud,

As it turned out, only about 20 tons [of the liquid chlorine] remained. Experts concluded that over 70 tons had indeed leaked out in the first six hours after the derailment. Normally, it would have moved across the ground and collected in valleys and hollows; there, it would have turned into deadly gas. Instead, because of the propane explosions around the tanker, hot air currents had propelled the chlorine thousands of feet high. This had saved Mississauga.

Given that chlorine was one of the most feared gases of World War I trench warfare, the danger Stroud describes would have been horrific if a comprehensive evacuation plan had not been in place. For nearly a quarter-million citizens to be moved out of harm's way is quite the logistical achievement, and it went off without a hitch. Luck was also with Mississauga in that the explosions carried off most of the chlorine to a level where it could do no harm, and would eventually disperse in the air.

It was five days before the authorities gave the all-clear, and the people of Mississauga could finally return to their homes.

Mississauga has become a textbook case in how to handle large-scale emergency evacuations. Until Hurricane Katrina flattened New Orleans in 2005, in fact, it was the single largest peacetime evacuation in North American history. Hazel McCallion is now 88, and still mayor of Mississauga, never having been defeated at the polls. Her nickname is "Hurricane Hazel", and she remains a feisty old bird--a real pistol. I have a hunch she won't leave City Hall until they carry her out, feet first. Fortunately, she is extremely popular--her popularity cemented, no doubt, by the terrific way she handled the disaster!

And yes, the explosion was visible from my own town, too--it lit up the night sky, though none of us could see the column of flame. It was the talk of my middle school for several weeks.

My own favorite memory of the whole shebang, however, has got to be this weird little New Wave song by Eva Everything and The Gas, recorded in a studio in Toronto--aptly named "Great Shakes" because of its proximity to the railroad tracks. It's very rare and I couldn't find any video of it, but I remember it well from the news footage at the time. While looking for it, I found out that Eva Everything has since become a science writer and has a quirky, fun-looking book out. She also has a Facebook page, here. It would be fun to see her wacky song YouTubed, if anyone can find it and the news footage of the explosion.

Meanwhile, because I too now live right next to some CP tracks (in a house I find myself often referring to as "Great Shakes"!), I find myself watching the trains a lot. And on the neighboring CN tracks, too. Lots of tankers go by on the rails every day; hundreds, maybe thousands per week. Yet, strangely, I'm never afraid, even though I know full well what might happen. Maybe it's because the Mississauga disaster has made everyone more vigilant since then--and no one more so than the trainmen who, like Keith Pruss and Larry Krupa, have to handle vast tonnages of dangerous materials every working day. Who knows how many times they've gone to bat against corporate execs who are too often tempted to cut corners--and who try to influence parliamentarians into allowing safety lapses for profit's sake? The trainmen are the unsung heroes of our railroads, and I hope they never let up.

The gales of November came early...

A well-made tribute to the 29 sailors who went down 34 years ago in the most famous Great Lakes wreck of all time--that of the Edmund Fitzgerald. They all came from the US, but because they went down in Canadian waters, the empathy for their families and friends is shared across the border. This song is a Canadian classic.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?"

I can't think of a more haunting line in any ballad than that. This song is so eerie, in fact, that one night a few years ago I actually heard it in my dreams, pitch-perfect right down to the steel guitar that echoes the wailing of the north wind. I woke up in a flash, unable to get back to sleep. The Witch of November had come stealing, all right--and with her, she took my nerves.

But this song is more than just a haunting ballad. It's also accurate in many concrete details. The Edmund Fitzgerald, as the lyrics say, carried 26,000 tons--26,116 to be precise--of taconite (iron ore) pellets, bound for the US Steel mills in Detroit. The account of the disappearance is in line with the actual events (although the dialogue, especially between the cook and crew, is probably poetic licence, since the last words via radio from the ship's captain were a terse "We're holding our own"). It happened so quickly that no one could quite believe it. And after the sinking, there was much confusion for years as to what could have caused it; there were so many conflicting theories. At the time the song came out, the cause was still unknown.

But Peter Unwin, author of The Wolf's Head, a compendium of history and folklore of Lake Superior, seems to have cracked the mystery once and for all. I'll let Unwin lay out the facts, and draw my own conclusion in a bit:

At seventeen years of age, the Edmund Fitzgerald was a neglected and ailing vessel. It had also taken its blows. In 1969, in a serious grounding, the ship suffered damage to its bottom and internal superstructure. A year later, it collided with the S. S. Hochelaga and sustained damage above the waterline. Three times the ship suffered injury above the waterline in collisions with the lock walls at Sault Ste. Marie. Welding cracks in the ship's keel area were discovered in 1969 and again in 1973. The Fitz also had an unusual bow action, what [Captain] McSorley called "that wiggly thing"--in hard weather the bow of his carrier flipped to one side and took forever to return. "If she starts to do the wiggling thing, let me know. This thing scares me sometimes," he told a mate. His stated opinion of his own ship was that it was "not as great as you might think."

In five years its hull had been damaged five times. In that condition, bruised, possibly sailing with a loose keel and its twenty-one hatch covers held down by a minimum of clamps, it headed full speed into the worst storm to strike Lake Superior in more than half a century.

[...]

Despite the circumstances on that dreadful night, of all the ships on Superior only one sank, the relatively young Edmund Fitzgerald. It is possible this massive carrier had been sinking for hours, that as its captain ploughed hard into the mounting waves, it was sinking. With every nautical mile, the ship slipped another degree below the surface. Even with pumps spewing thousands of gallons per minute, the ship was sinking. Inch by inch the distance between Superior and the spar deck decreased. What had once been compartments filled with air were now filling with water, tons and tons of water, coming from the top, perhaps from below.

[...]

From the time the ship was built in 1958 to the time it disappeared in 1975, the United States Coast Guard allowed the Edmund Fitzgerald to load an extra three more feet of cargo. A single inch of increased draft on a ship that size meant an extra 130 long tons per trip. Multiplied by forty-five trips per year and then the ship's lifetime of perhaps fifty years, that inch translates into millions of dollars.

Year by year the Edmund Fitzgerald was riding lower in the water. In 1958 nautical engineers had concluded this ship could be safely loaded in winter to 24 feet 6 inches. In 1973 the Fitzgerald's load line for the critical late-fall sailing season was increased a full 20 inches. Fully loaded, it now floated closer to the bottom of Lake Superior than it had the year before. When the Fitzgerald left Wisconsin for the last time on November 9, it was cargoed to a draft of 27 feet 2 inches forward, and 27 feet 6 inches aft, low enough that a twelve-foot wave would board it. A fifteen-foot wave hurled three feet of water across the deck. A thirty-five-foot wave like the ones encountered on November 10 put the deck nearly twenty-five feet beneath the surface of Superior.

After the investigation the Coast Guard's first recommendation was to rescind its own reduction in freeboard brought about by changes in 1969, 1971, and 1973. The Lake Carriers Association issued its own report in which it complimented itself on its safety record through the years, and demanded that no changes be made to current load-line regulations: the Edmund Fitzgerald had struck a shoal and sunk.

Just a shoal? Hardly.

It was greed that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald. Greed that kept the Fitzgerald in such poor condition; greed that left so few clamps on the hatches, allowing water to seep in from above; greed that kept raising the load line above what the engineers had decreed, time and again; greed that sent the vessel out on its final voyage when winter weather was already setting in, and the shipping lanes would be closed by law in a matter of days. And in the end, the shoal otherwise known as greed cost 29 lives, plus a highly-valued ship--once the biggest "laker" in the world--plus 26,116 tons of iron ore that has never been salvaged.

And who would salvage it? Who would dare brave the fury of the world's greatest lake? Is anybody that foolhardy?

I was born in Northern Ontario; I lived there for the first ten years of my life. I was a little girl when the Fitzgerald sank. I don't have any personal memories of the sinking. But I do have a visceral memory of what Superior is like; by concidence, burned in my brain not long after that fateful sinking.

It's clean, unbelievably big, deep blue, ruggedly beautiful, and full of excellent fish, the freshest I've ever tasted. I remember one family trip we took there; I remember wandering along its shore, picking up handfuls of rusty-brown agates, and jade-green, water-smooth pebbles (epidote, according to my gold-prospecting rockhound dad.) My senses were singing. Eventually, the lure of the big water was too much for me to resist; I took off my sandals and waded in.

And suppressed a scream.

It hurt horrifically for a minute or so; then my feet went numb. I dropped my rocks and stumbled out, teeth rattling in my head, my legs dead below the knee. It felt as though I'd been in it forever, but I had been in for much less than five minutes. It was the height of summer, and Lake Superior, inviting as it looked, was in fact bone-hollowing cold.

In an instant, I grasped the macabre horror of what awaited anyone unlucky enough to get caught by its rough waves. And they were rough--even on a calm day, you could feel them sucking at you like a live thing, hungry for a human sacrifice. Even wading in the shallows, you felt it. I was maybe nine years old at the time, and I've never forgotten.

Now, just imagine what it must be like in early November, as fall gives way to winter, and freezing rain turns to sleet and snow. Imagine that great blue water turning a flinty, taconite grey, tossed by hurricane-force winds. Imagine it coming in 30-foot-high swells. How long do you think a ship's crew would last, if they went down in that?

"The waves turn the minutes to hours" is an understatement. Seconds would feel like eternities. Death might not be long in coming, but it would still be long enough that its utter horror would be inescapable.

Lake Superior--Gitchigami, its Ojibwa name, means "Big Water"--is not to be trifled with. Nor is its power to be underestimated. Like all the Great Lakes, it is so large that it can create its own weather and climate patterns--a trait otherwise limited mainly to oceans. "The gales of November come early", all right--and nowhere more than on Superior. Pushing through a last shipment of heavy iron ore pellets--an oversize one, at that--at such a time, really is the worst kind of hubris. Were I the owner of a vessel like the Fitzgerald, I would never take such a risk. No amount of money to be made would be worth the loss, especially with a lake as legendary for its hunger as Gitchigami is.

And, pagan that I am, I would probably feel compelled to propitiate the Mishipashoo--the legendary feline water-spirit of Gitchigami--with regular rites of bonfires, native-style drumming and chanting, and prayers for mercy. (Not to mention binding-spells against human hubris--a sentiment far too easily felt when confronted with such a large body of navigable water, daring one to brave it...)

Here's a nicely-done metal cover of the Gordon Lightfoot song:

It's missing the piercing intonation of the steel guitar that rang with such eerie clarity through my dreams one night, but I think it still does justice to the ballad.

PS: Read here about the efforts of a Fitzgerald victim's nephew's efforts to save the ship that tried to rescue his uncle and 28 crewmates. It's a very moving story. I hope that even if the Arthur M. Anderson doesn't continue to sail as a working "laker", it will still be preserved for its historic value. Perhaps it could be turned into a floating museum in honor of those lost on Lake Superior--the human sacrifices, counted and uncounted, of Gitchigami.

November 5, 2009

Time to end this war, NOW

FUX Snooze, as usual, gets it wrong. The shooter's cousin sets them straight.

When an army doctor busts in and starts shooting the place up in order to prevent the deployment of his comrades to Afghanistan (and himself to Iraq), what would you call it--"crazy", or something else?

Sources said Maj Hasan had been due to be deployed to Iraq shortly and was an army psychiatrist. He is believed to have been in his late 30s and from Virginia.

It was reported that he did not want to go to Iraq.

Hmmm. That might be a clue. Not wanting to go to Iraq is actually an act of sanity, not this:

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison said: "Our dedicated military personnel have sacrificed so much in service to our country and it sickens me that the men and women of Fort Hood have been subjected to this senseless, random violence."

"Senseless, random violence".

Uh, nice cover-up job you're doing there, Senator Warmonger. What better way to salve your guilty conscience (complicit in both wars) than to shut down all further inquiry by declaring this to be just another of those random acts of senseless violence that, for some unexplained reason, keep arising in the United States more than anywhere else.

Unfortunately, there's the fact that Fort Hood happens to be a treatment centre for PTSD. And the shooter happens to be a psychiatrist who treated PTSD patients. And as we peaceniks know only too well from prior history, PTSD is an inevitable outcome of war. Is this a manifestation of PTSD in a doctor whose job was to treat it, or is it something else?

No, I don't feel hateful, angry or vengeful towards him; he's hurting too. What good would hate do? I hope he survives his injuries, if only so he can have a chance to explain why he did it. And if he's sick, I hope he gets help. Whichever way this goes, I suspect we'll hear a lot of things that some people still don't want to believe about the War on Terra.

And meanwhile, I can just smell the warmongers cranking up the ol' hate-machine once again. Fuck them--fuck them all. It was their cheerleading and their repression of protest that enabled both wars, and I hold them criminally responsible for it...and all its consequences.

Including, yes, THIS one. Because there is no doubt in my mind that it IS one.

PS: US News reports that there was a new military mental-health policy implemented just five days ago. Could this be a clue?

October 28, 2009

The CIA is...WHAT?

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From the Old Grey Whore of New York, a head-scratching opening to a story that I thought ought to have been open and shut long ago...

Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

Probably not. But you would not know it from the C.I.A.'s behavior.

"Probably not" means oh yes, they are. If the CIA is acting suspiciously, be suspicious. Very suspicious. And don't cut your own lede out from under you with qualifiers, because the guy this story is telling us about sure wouldn't:

The agency's deception was first reported in 2001 by Jefferson Morley, who has doggedly pursued the files ever since, represented by James H. Lesar, a Washington lawyer specializing in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

"The C.I.A.'s conduct is maddening," said Mr. Morley, 51, a former Washington Post reporter and the author of a 2008 biography of a former C.I.A. station chief in Mexico.

After years of meticulous reporting on Mr. Joannides, who died at age 68 in 1990, he is convinced that there is more to learn.

"I know there's a story here," Mr. Morley said. "The confirmation is that the C.I.A. treats these documents as extremely sensitive."

The article notes early on that Jefferson Morley has "no use for conspiracy thinking". Yet even he thinks the CIA was conspiring, simply because of how it's acting. It's treating something supposedly insignificant as "extremely sensitive". Now why do you suppose that is?

Oh, only because the CIA has been one big conspiracy since the moment of its inception. Conspiracy is its business--it's a dead bust at gathering intelligence, so what else could it be for? And because it's hardly a secret that the "Company" was involved in the JFK assassination right up to its eyeballs, as anyone who's ever seen The Men Who Killed Kennedy can attest. Yet the NY Whore still plays dumb...

What motive could C.I.A. officials have to bury the details of Mr. Joannides's work for so long? Did C.I.A. officers or their Cuban contacts know more about Oswald than has been revealed? Or was the agency simply embarrassed by brushes with the future assassin -- like the Dallas F.B.I. officials who, after the assassination, destroyed a handwritten note Oswald had previously left for an F.B.I. agent?

Or has Mr. Morley spent a decade on a wild goose chase?

Clearly, the Whore would like us to believe the latter.

Of course, that could be because the NY Whore is itself infiltrated by the CIA. Has been for a long time, and will be until the day it bites the dust. Remember, Operation Mockingbird was never shut down. So of course, they still have an active interest in whitewashing the CIA's involvement in just about anything that points to it. And they're still using major newspapers to do it. How very respectable of them!

And if you really want to know the true role of AGENT Lee Harvey Oswald (that's what he really was!), who began his spook career in Naval Intelligence, was professionally trained in Russian by the US military itself, and tracked U-2 flights over Russia from Atsugi (a curious job for a supposedly avowed communist to have, no?), here ya go--a respected and respectable British documentary team has done your homework for you. Enjoy Episode 4 from the original Men Who Killed Kennedy series...also titled "The Patsy":

Jim Garrison was right--the whole "pro-Castro" thing was a sham. A "sheep-dipping" in which the CIA set Agent Oswald up to look like a communist and staged a street brawl between him and the same anti-Castro group it was financing in Miami to the tune of $50,000 a month, which was serious money in 1963. It was followed by a very phony radio "debate" between Oswald and his alleged assailants. This all was done so no one would question the contention that he was the "real" assassin, the guy who fired the single, magic bullet that went through both a president's head, and just about every part of the Governor of Texas, virtually unscathed and from the absolutely wrong direction--an account hotly disputed by eminent forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, himself not exactly a conspiracy nutcase. Dr. Wecht happens to be one of the world's top forensic pathologists, with literally thousands of autopsies under his belt. He knows from extensive experience what bullets can and cannot do to human beings. He has stated that if the JFK murder were ever to go to a trial, it would be thrown out of court because the evidence had been botched so badly.

And that's not even touching on the witnesses. One who would never be called on to testify, because his words would be too incriminating, would be Col. Fletcher Prouty, who was "in that business" in Latin America during the 1950s and notes (also in The Men Who Killed Kennedy) that it was commonplace for the CIA, US military intelligence, etc., to hire assassins from local mafias to bump off political undesirables. How commonplace? There was actually a manual instructing local operatives to do just that.

As it turns out, the assassin hired by the CIA--or one of them, at any rate--was a Corsican mobster named Lucien Sarti, feared and hated even in the mafia for his recklessness and ruthlessness. The Corsican mob had lost millions in casino revenues when Fidel Castro shut down their interests in Cuba, so it stands to reason that they would jump at the chance to band together with a powerful and secretive organization like the CIA to assassinate Castro...or, failing that, a president who had reneged on his "promise" to oust him when the Bay of Pigs invasion flopped. Sarti was chosen because he was white, because he knew how to use disguises to blend in with the locals (he was dressed in a Dallas police uniform when he fired from the "Grassy Knoll"), and because he was about as professional and cold-blooded a killer you could ask for--he used frangible bullets, as evidenced by the way JFK's head blew up in the Zapruder film. (Karma got back at him for it about nine years later--Sarti was himself shot dead in Mexico City in 1972.) Here's a chilling close-up look at Sarti's part in the plot:

Independent writers and researchers have been on this story since the get-go. The witnesses have been literally dying to tell the truth, and they were shut out by the Warren Commission, the US government, and God only knows who all else. They were also shut out by the "respectable" mainstream media. Guess why.

If you believe the official whitewash and scoff at the "conspiracy theories", congratulations. You're an idiot, and the NY Whore would love to keep you that way. That's why it's doing such a half-assed job of reporting on the work of a real journalist struggling to get to the bottom of the matter. That's why it's treating this latest researcher so dismissively. It wants you to think that everyone still investigating a "case closed" is some kind of nutter.

I, however, would like to see you educate yourself. That's why I put this up here. Go on, now, and do your own homework. And ignore that whore on the streetcorner, lifting her skirt and flashing her panties at you. She's got nothing to sell you but the same old crap.

October 22, 2009

This one won't be running off to Peru for asylum...

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Venezuelans carry the body of a comrade during the Caracazo. Caracas, Venezuela, late February-early March, 1989.

...because he's one of those responsible for an old massacre, and the people of Venezuela are anxious to see him brought to justice at home:

The public ministry has issued an order preventing a retired general of the National Guard, José Rafael León Orsoni, from leaving the country, and requiring him to appear before a court of law for his suspected responsibility for incidents that took place during the Caracazo of February 27-28 and early March, 1989.

León Orsoni is required to appear every 30 days before Tribunal #32, Caracas. He was indicted on October 2 as an accomplice to homicide and for breaking international pacts and conventions signed by Venezuela.

As well, on October 14, a trial began against two members of the Metropolitan Caracas Police, Jorge Giménez and Pedro Miguel Blanco Belmont, accused by fellow officers of being responsible for the killing of Luis Manuel Colmenares, on March 7, 1989, during the Caracazo.

Their case was appealed in June 2004, and the Caracas Court of Appeals struck down the earlier decision. For this reason, a new trial against the two has been ordered in order to obtain an absolute sentence.

Translation mine.

Here's a half-hour of history (in Spanish) to remind you of why it matters that all the villains of the Caracazo be brought to justice, and permanently:

Justice is slow in coming (where do the wheels of justice ever NOT turn slowly?), but under Chavecito, it's happening more and more often.

Meanwhile, the people won't ever forget.

October 20, 2009

Is this what it takes to stop the bleeding?

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From France, something mightily disturbing about where privatization of formerly public companies goes if taken to the crapitalist extreme...

France Télécom today shelved its restructuring programme after the suicides of 25 workers whose deaths have been linked to a modernisation drive at the group.

The former state monopoly said it had called-off its controversial corporate shake-up until next year.

The announcement follows a wave of deaths at the group and a further spate of attempted suicides since February 2008. The deaths, which have shocked the country, have led to calls for the resignation of Didier Lombard, France Télécom's chief executive.

A spokesman said: "We will suspend all restructuring until December 31, 2009."

And after that, all bets will be off, the "modernization" drive will be on again, and so will the suicides. Brilliant!

And after that, the Deluge...of government intervention:

The French Government summoned Mr Lombard to a crisis meeting last month about the deaths, which unions blame on a deep malaise caused by the restructuring. He was asked to produce an urgent action plan.

Critics say staff at the company, two thirds of whom were taken on when the group was a state monopoly and, as such, considered themselves unsackable, had become desperate after being asked to overhaul working practices. The shake-up was aimed at making the Gallic group more competitive in the international market.

A total of 10,000 employees have changed jobs in the past three years.

And if you think it's easy to change jobs in France, where positions have until recently tended to be full-time, decently paid and career-long, or that American-style ultracapitalism would cut the fat, may I remind you that (a) the French have lower obesity rates by far than the Yanks, and (b) the US capital crisis--still happening!--is a direct result of that ultracapitalism.

And so, it turns out, is something like this:

One of the most recent deaths occurred last month when a 51-year-old employee killed himself in the French Alps. The man, who was married with two children, left a note blaming the "atmosphere" at work before throwing himself off a motorway bridge in Alby-sur-Cheran.

He had recently switched jobs to a call centre where he faced performance objectives.

Call centres are notoriously stressful, with jobs directly dependent on a quota of sales, and poor remuneration to boot--which is not much improved even on the off chance that you exceed your quota. The last thing anyone in my neck of the woods dreams of being is a call-centre employee, and for reasons good. It's a shitty job, with rejection being a daily norm (seeing as the job basically entails cold-calling people who don't want to be called, and annoying the hell out of them.) It is, from a psychological standpoint, a sheer nightmare. That's something no amount of money can make good, much less the lousy pay (barely above minimum wage) that a telemarketer makes. The turnover is high, and no wonder: Ditch digging is less of a hassle, and better paid!

So I hope you'll pardon me for laughing (sardonically, and with little mirth) at things like this:

Mr Lombard had already announced an end to the programme of compulsory job changes for managers and suspended staff performance indicators at the call centre as he sought to end what he called a "death spiral" at the group.

He has also hired 100 additional advisers in human resources and launched negotiations with unions on workplace stress.

It's going to take a hell of a lot more than piddling measures like those to stop the bleeding, Monsieur Lombard. It will take nothing less than a candid admission that capitalism does not work, and a return to the days when phone service was publicly provided and cheap--and a source of steady, secure employment that didn't see middle-aged family men hanging themselves en masse.

PS: This article in the Spiegel is also surprisingly good, as it points the finger in all the right directions. Sarko's pronouncement at the end pleasantly surprised me, but perhaps it shouldn't. After all, it's France, and happiness is sacred there.

PPS: And for a look at some real assholes who prescribe capitalism but don't make the connection between it and suicide, click here. (Warning: raw sewage!)

October 19, 2009

Another day, another death in Tegucigolpe

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From Aporrea, more evidence that the Gorilletti dictatorship has got to die:

The National Front Against the Coup D'état in Honduras condemned the murder of one of its leaders during the repression of political anti-coup demonstrations.

The latest victim has been identified as Jairo Sánchez, who was shot in the face during the nighttime protests against the military putsch at a barricade in Tegucigalpa.

Human-rights organizations say the killing took place on September 23, when six other people were wounded by bullets.

Front leaders such as Juan Barahona, the co-ordinator general, and peasant leader Rafael Alegría, warned that the murder of the union leader Sánchez is part of the de facto regime's efforts to paralyze popular resistance by way of terror.

They reiterated that the popular mobilization will not stop until it has succeeded in restoring constitutional order and the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya, as well as the convocation of a national constitutent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution.

Sánchez received tributes from the members of the resistance during yesterday's demonstration, when his comrades commemmorated his active participation in the demonstrations against the putsch of June 28.

Translation mine.

There is something you can do about it today. If you're in Washington, DC, you may want to attend this demo ("near Dupont Circle, 1850 M Street NW"); if not, here's another way to piss off some seriously nasty lobbyists: Sign this and pass it along to all your democracy-loving friends.

And when you're done with all that, relax and read the funny papers.

October 9, 2009

A giant joke on the whole notion of world peace

"The Right to Live in Peace", by Víctor Jara. He wrote this song in honor of Vietnam when the war there was still raging. For speaking out for the Vietnamese, and for his own Chilean and Latin American brethren, Jara was "rewarded" by being one of the first to be rounded up and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in the infamous National Stadium in Santiago. The triggerman may well be brought to justice, but the real murderer--or, more accurately, murderers--got away with it.

Good morning! I guess you've all heard by now that His Barackness has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he'll be going to Oslo to claim on December 10. And I'll bet that you, like this lovely Venezuelan lady, are scratching your head over it and going "WTF???"

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The people's ombud of Venezuela, Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

"We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas--one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace," Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

"The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?" she asked, on a VTV program.

According to Ramírez, the lack of concrete achievements during his reign is another reason to reject the decision announced from Norway.

Obama heads a fairly young government, whose results have yet to be seen in practice, she said.

Ramírez, a social worker by training, said that if the prize were given for speeches, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, would deserve one.

Evo proposed a climate tribunal and advocates for defense of the planet, Ramírez said.

Ramírez says that instead of accepting the prize, Obama should close the US military bases [in Latin America], order the 4th Fleet, which patrols Latin American waters, back to port, and seek pardon for genocides committed or permitted by his country in all the world.

Translation mine. Link to Evo's speech added.

I should also add that Evo kept Bolivia from crumbling in the hands of separatist terrorists planning his assassination, and a bloody civil war, from the city of Santa Cruz, with the help of wealthy local financiers. The bastards didn't get him, nor did they blow up his floating parliament on Lake Titicaca as they'd planned, but they did manage to kill his little elderly aunt, Rufina.

Meanwhile, to give you a feel for just how big and dirty a joke on world peace this cynical prize-giving really is, may I direct your attention to this fine piece, by NACLA's Roque Planas, in Venezuelanalysis?

The announcement in mid-July of the near completion of an agreement to allow the U.S. military to lease space at seven Colombian bases prompted nearly unanimous rejection from South American governments. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has called three summit meetings to discuss the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has refused to back down. In the meantime, other South American nations have begun to arm themselves, fueling fears of an arms race in a region that has not suffered a major inter-state conflict since the end of the Chaco War in 1935.

The source of greatest tension lies on the Venezuela-Colombian border. The Uribe administration argues that it needs increased U.S. military support to suppress drug traffickers and the leftist insurgency of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the Colombian government has yet to bring formal allegations, the Uribe administration has insinuated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports the FARC and has diverted Swedish-made rocket launchers to the group-a claim that Chávez denies.

Chávez, on the other hand, maintains that the U.S. government was involved in a 2002 coup to overthrow him and claims that the increased U.S. military presence constitutes a national security threat to Venezuela. Chávez recently announced that the Venezuelan government had been awarded over $2 billion in financing from the Russian government to purchase tanks and an anti-aircraft missile system.

Venezuela is not the only country investing in its military. The Brazilian government is currently negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal with French company Dassault that could be worth up to $7 billion. Three other companies, including Boeing, made unsuccessful offers.

The Bolivian government has also negotiated a much smaller deal with Russia for $100 million to finance unspecified purchases of military equipment, as well as a $30 million presidential plane. The Bolivian government purchased the current presidential plane back in the 1970s.

As if determined to rekindle memories of the Cold War, the Russian military is even going to "help Havana modernize and train its military," according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.

Linkage as in original.

It bears saying that all this "alarming" arming comes not as part of some nefarious terror plot against the people of Latin America, nor is it a declaration of war against those in the United States. It comes as a direct response to the military forces the US has placed in Colombia--seven of them to make up for the closure of the US base at Manta, Ecuador. (President Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, refused to renew the concession, which ran out this year.)

It also comes in response to other alarming developments, such as this:

The United States will reactivate a radar base and finance the construction of a naval base in Costa Rica, as part of a plan rejected today [October 8,2009] in the region as a menace to sovereignty and security.

The subcommander of US-Southcom, Paul Trivelli, announced the decision to return to operation a modern radar base in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, with the supposed objective of combatting drug trafficking.

According to Trivelli, the base functioned there until 1995, when it was closed after several years of operation.

The powerful radar sat on top of Cerro Azul de Nandayure, a site difficult to access, protected 24 hours a day by the police.

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Trivelli also announced the investment of $15 million in a naval base already being constructed in the Caldera region, Puntarenas province. There, as well, a school for coast-guard officers is in operation.

Although the Southcom representative claims that these actions are part of the War on Drugs, the announcement caused concern over the renewed interest of Washington in placing more military bases in the region.

Translation mine.

This is a particular concern for Costa Rica, since that country abolished its own armed forces six decades ago, in stark contrast to others in the region, in order to prevent war and military dictatorship from ever taking hold in what was, for the longest time, Central America's most stable and peaceable democracy.

Now, it seems, Costa Rica is defenceless, and since it needs the money (why else has it become such a hotspot for sex tourism?), it's not in any position to "Just Say No" to the War on Latin America Drugs. Instead, it's playing host to something that can only be injurious to its security and sovereignty in the long run (as well as providing heaven only knows how many potential new gringo customers for the local underage prostitution rings.)

The war in Iraq is far from over, and the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up, not wound down. And for this, among many other things, a Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today.

No, I don't understand it either.

PS: El Duderino shares my sentiments, I see.

PPS: So does El Gaviero.

PPPS: Michael Moore has weighed in. Go read! An excellent, timely reminder of what has to be done to earn the prize for realz.

PPPPS: Avaaz has a petition going. Just sign here.

October 8, 2009

Tu querida presencia, Comandante...

A documentary of the life of Che Guevara. On this, the anniversary of his assassination by the CIA's thugs in Bolivia, it's useful to know who he really was, and why the moneyed interests wanted him dead. Contrary to popular misconception, it's not because he was a "monster" who wanted to start a "third world war". It's because he was a humanitarian doctor who, by his own choice, saw life through the eyes of those whom capitalism would rather have us forget. And, when peaceful revolution became impossible, he was among the first to recognize the importance of fighting back. Those who thought he would die when killed, must be mortified to realize that they've only managed to make a martyr...and awaken the very social conscience that they had hoped to stifle forever.

Hasta siempre, Comandante.

An important reminder of why the IMF is not to be trusted. ANYWHERE.

The Take, by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, in its entirety.

While Argentina's politicians and public officials go on sucking donkey balls, its ordinary working people are showing us a new way--how to fire the boss (and the IMF) and still make enough to live on and prosper.

October 3, 2009

Alan Grayson: my latest hero

Watch him speak truth to power (and powerful insurance lobbying interests):

Then, watch all the Repugnican heads EXPLODING.

And toward the end, you can hear Dubya and his buh-rilliunt catch-all solution. Emergency Pap tests, ladies? How 'bout a mammogram in the ER? Next thing you know, emergency prenatal care will be all the rage, as will emergency chemo and radiotherapy for that cancer. Just leave everything till it gets so bad that you'll HAVE to go there and nowhere else. If you're lucky, you might survive, only to get a sticker-shock bill in the end because you weren't sick enough, or poor enough, to qualify for truly free care.

"Die quickly." Yeah, like IN EMERG. Dubya recommends it, therefore it must be just what the doctor ordered. And a lot of conservatards are now repeating it all over the Internets.

Fuck you, tards--that shit would never fly in Canada. Single-payer healthcare is so sacred up here, even the Conservative Party--as full of right-wing and free-trade crap as the Repugs, but wussier, and rightly afraid of popular opinion--won't touch it, much less re-privatize the whole system. They'd be voted into oblivion if they even laid a finger.

September 20, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: Who needs death panels...

...when you've got the Joker?

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Sadly, this is not that much of a joke.

This concludes the week of Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare. Laugh, cry, get pissed--do something.

September 19, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: Another sad comment

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Whaddya bet he's on old-age pension (provided by government) AND US Medicare (free healthcare for seniors--again, provided by government)?

Sadder still: After all these years, don't you think he could at least have learned to spell "medicine"? (Or comprehend irony?)

September 18, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: One way to remove the obstruction

And it's non-surgical, too--meaning it's cheap, cheap, CHEAP!

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Remember, folks--single-payer mental healthcare saves lives!

September 17, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: What the teabaggers don't want you to see

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BTW, the first comment on my first entry of this week is worth checking out...and if you own stock in medical insurance, now would be a terrific time to divest.

Just a humble suggestion.

September 16, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: A sad comment

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Some of them really ARE this stupid. Or this crazy.

Please, won't you help them get single-payer MENTAL healthcare?

September 15, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: We're # WHAT?

Get ready for it, folks...here comes our second installment for the week:

What better way to say it than with loud music and pretty pictures?

September 14, 2009

Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare: Sick For Profit

I've decided to declare this "Help Our Stateside Friends Get Healthcare" week. So, all week long, I'll be blogging whatever catches my eye that has to do with injustice in the US healthcare system, and how to fix it. Here's the first installment: Sick For Profit.

Warning: Very disturbing beginning, very sad middle, and toward the end--very, VERY angry-making.

Let's get this fucker off the air for good

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Last Saturday's flop of a march on Washington was Glenn Beck's idea. Wingnuts claim that 2 million or more showed up, although the actual figure was only in the tens of thousands. Color of Change can tell you why anyone showed up at all:

This summer, Beck said:
This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people...this guy is, I believe, a racist.

That statement fits into a pattern of rhetoric from Beck designed to stoke racial paranoia and fear. He has claimed that President Obama has a "reparation appetite" and a desire to use his policies to settle old racial scores. Beck's overall plan is to create an atmosphere in which the White House can accomplish nothing, and he's carrying it out by preying on race-based fears and mobilizing hate. Beck relies on dishonesty, distortion and exaggeration, and he is embarking on character assassinations of Obama administration officials with whom he disagrees.

FOX has a horrible track record on pushing racist propaganda, but Glenn Beck appears to be taking the network to an even lower standard. He's trying to divide and distract America when we should be coming together and talking about issues that really matter--like health care and the economy.

So, the Million Moron March, while good for laughs at the expense of the morons, has a serious underlying purpose: to derail democracy by claiming that it wasn't the will of the voting majority, but a nefarious (nonexistent) communist conspiracy that put Obama in power.

Meanwhile, Beck's whiny-ass show is suffering; it's lost half its sponsors thanks to some serious good work by CoC and ordinary people who are sick of hearing racism and hate speech being passed off as "patriotism".

What say we kill the remainder, and thus make his corporate bosses seriously reconsider their bad business decision that essentially entails treason and gross racism? Click here if you haven't already, and sign Color of Change's petition.

Remember, folks: The future of our stateside friends depends on it!

August 21, 2009

Michael Moore is at it again!

This one promises to be even more explosive than the last...which was more explosive than the last...which was...

Jeez. Where is there left for this man to go? He's taken the mick out of the Big Three, out of gun nuts, out of 9-11, out of the insurance industry, and now, capitalism itself.

And have I told you lately how much I love him?

August 20, 2009

"I am not dumb now!"

A 1930 newsreel of Helen Keller and her teacher-companion, Annie Sullivan, explaining in brief how Helen went from a blind-deaf-mute to a woman with the power of vocal speech, the means of expression--and a remarkable eloquence that turned her into one of the foremost feminists and socialists of the day. The use of the word "dumb", here, is the old one--meaning speechless, not stupid.

As one can see by her writings and speeches, Helen Keller was formidably intelligent. Many biographers now prefer to focus on the individualistic "miracle" aspect of her learning to communicate without sight or hearing, rather than the logical outcome of it--namely, Helen's free and progressive mind. Her politics are often bowdlerized or misrepresented, if they are mentioned at all, because they are so unfashionable--and so threatening to corporate interests, now more than ever.

One wonders what she'd have said about the way the 'wingers are now doing their stupid best to derail all hope of universal, publicly funded healthcare in the states. What would she say to their corporate-backed fascist "tea parties", which are so contrary to what the REAL Boston Tea Party was about? I suspect she'd have blasted them.

How we need the likes of her today!

June 13, 2009

Fetus Fetish round-up

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Via Unrepentant Old Hippie, I found this tale of an anti-choice blog gone wild. Does anyone else find this passage fishy?

Beushausen said she really did lose a son shortly after birth in 2005. She started her blog in March to help deal with that loss and to express her strong anti-abortion views, she said.

She had expected only a handful of friends to read it, but when her first post got 50 comments, she was hooked.

"I've always liked writing. It was addictive to find out I had a voice that people wanted to hear," Beushausen said.

"Soon I was getting 100,000 hits a week, and it just got out of hand," she said. "I didn't know how to stop. ... One lie led to another."

She waited FOUR YEARS before starting a fake blog to deal with her grief? Talk about having unresolved issues. Most people have healed and moved on after between one year and three. I don't think grief alone was a motivator here.

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Let's hope things don't come to this, but don't underestimate the anti-choice fascists. They won't stop until they've rolled back the clock to 1952, minimum. Required reading on what that would look like, here.

Meanwhile, even though Dr. Tiller's clinic is closed, elsewhere on the frontlines the Lord's work goes on. (Read John Irving's The Cider House Rules to get the reference.)

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Let the lies, backpedaling and strange scapegoating begin. Stormfront and Operation Rescue are having kittens! Both kinds of fascists are saying the same thing now that their rhetoric has borne its inevitable fruit. Coincidence? Of course not.

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And lest we forget what's REALLY at the bottom of all this violence and madness, here's a timely reminder. It's the HATE, stupid!

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Garbage in, garbage out. Isn't it time to take out the trash?

June 6, 2009

Wankers of the Week: The "pro-life" killers of Dr. Tiller

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No shit, kiddies, this is how they really "think". And this is how they see women. Nice, innit?

Christ, what is it about abortion that brings out the wankers, baying for blood from women and doctors? Whatever it is, they were sure out in force this week, and their ugly side wasn't far below the surface. In many cases, it was right out front and proud. Just like a wanker's you-know-what. Here's who gets bitch-slapped for public obscenity by your Auntie Bina this week, kiddies...

1. Bill Fucking O'Reilly. For demonizing Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider from Kansas who was recently murdered. IN CHURCH, no less. Of course, he's pretending he had nothing to do with it. What does one expect from a cowardly wanker like Mr. Oh-Really, or any other of his bed-wetting, loofah-abusing, woman-harassing, shit-stained ilk? They'll never man up and admit their share of responsibility, as Frank Schaeffer has done, for the general psychopathy of the right-wing fringe.

1 1/2. Juan Fucking Williams. Uncle Tom covers Billo's blotchy bully ass. Talk about compounding one's moral cowardice.

2. Randall Fucking Terry. See above, and add shameless mooching. Cthulhu will surely eat HIM hot and crispy one day...soon, I hope and pray. (Hey, it's commensurate to the crime. Just as he says.)

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3. Scott Fucking Roeder. Yeah, I know--why is the stinking assassin third on the list? Because he didn't come by his murderous attitude just out of thin air. See the two (and a half) entries above. And add extra wanker points for his fascist militia membership. His ex-wife even confirms that his extremism was part of the reason she ended up divorcing him, and that it's also why his son, now 22, has as little as possible to do with his dad. Nice guy all around, eh?

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4. All the fucking Twitter-shitters, freepers, etc., etc. ad nauseam who are applauding this crime. Are they nuts? YES. And they're also quite typical of the anti-abortion movement, no matter what anyone says. They deeply believe that all women who have sex are jezebels who must be punished for it--with pregnancy, among other things. And if a woman chooses not to stay pregnant (i.e. punished for sex), they scream for blood. Hers? Her doctor's? It hardly matters to these thugs, as long as someone is killed to atone for the act. "Pro-life" is a misnomer for these people; they clearly have no problem with the murder of medical professionals. Especially if those medical professionals also happen to deliver babies, not just abortions. And, more significantly, if they also practice adoption, as Dr. Tiller did. They also can't admit that Dr. Tiller did what he did out of a deep compassion for women in a serious bind. Are you people ashamed of yourselves yet? You should be. You're not pro-life, but the man you love to hate was. And now he's dead--thanks in no small part to all of you fascist WANKERS.

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5. Whoever the fuck is responsible for this defamatory website. You've got wanker written all over you. Why don't you put your OWN name to it, you cowardly asshole? (EDIT: According to an anonymous benefactor commenting below, Wanker #5 is Stuart Bensch, of 1007 W Padon Avenue, Blackwell, Oklahoma 74631. Please direct all correspondence accordingly.)

6. Fucking Google. When I did a search for the phrase "George Tiller delivered babies", just to see if in fact he did (as many abortion providers do, surprise), the search left the crucial word, "delivered", out. WTF does Google have against people seeking complete, accurate information on an ob-gyn? Try it yourself and see--it WILL leave the "delivered" out unless you re-run the search asking it to leave it in! And even then, good luck finding non-Christofascist stuff. A right-wing-biased search engine? Don't look so shocked, kids. The world is full of right-wing bias, and it is the root of all evil. I already suspected something seriously amiss from what pops up in my "Hugo Chavez" Google Alerts. "Don't be evil" is apparently just an empty slogan to these wanks.

7. Anyone who refers to late-term abortion by the inaccurate term "partial birth". There is no such procedure, except in the fevered brains of the Amurrican Taliban. The overwhelming majority of "late-term" abortions are second-trimester, and are done only in the case of a fetus that isn't viable anyway. There is NO "partial birth" about it, and NO sense pretending that there is. Read this and get the facts!

8. Anyone who thinks that it will "save babies" to kill a doctor for Jeebus. No, it won't. Women who are going to abort, are going to go to any length they have to, even if it kills them. And if you don't believe me, maybe you should read what Dr. Garson Romalis has to say about his own near-death experience at the hands of one such walking freak-scene. It left him unable to deliver babies, which he did on a regular basis, as well as providing abortions, BEFORE he was shot! (Thanks a lot, James Charles Fucking Kopp. Why do you hate babies, James Charles?)

9. Anyone who thinks that abortion is a "holocaust" and that it's the sort of thing a Nazi would do. WRONG. The Nazis were against abortion. They were also most explicit in their "KKK" rule for women. This coincides remarkably with the Religious Reich's own role-modeling for females. They not only rewarded "good" German mothers-of-many with crosses, they actually forbade women to refuse to have children! And let me repeat, this rat-eaten assassin-of-doctors, like many others, was a fundie who moved in some pretty Nazified circles. So, if you're "pro-life" for religious reasons--congratulations! You have something major in common with fascists:

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The Nazi Mother's Cross--the ultimate symbol of "pro-life" Christianity!

10. Bruce Fucking Murch. Figures that a Quiverfull cultist would celebrate something as heinous as this. They care precious little about the women, and much more about keeping 'em barefoot and you-know-what, in the name of raising an army for Jesus, and for fighting the so-called culture war. For some reason, this whole whacked-up theology has a funny way of backfiring on itself and breeding radical feminists instead. Gee, I wonder why!

And finally, anyone who thinks this CRIME will put an end to abortions anywhere. No, it won't. It won't even shutter one clinic! After a period of mourning, Dr. Tiller's clinic will be open next Monday...and practicing good medicine, providing a needed service to women in a bind. Meanwhile, your "hero" Roeder will be rotting in jail, and this time, he won't be getting out on any technicality. The law is clear--this is NOT justifiable homicide. This is first-degree MURDER, by definition--because there was malice aforethought. This is a legal definition which applies to all doctor-killings, but NOT to abortions. (When's the last time YOU saw a woman have an abortion simply to torture her own fetus? Oh, only about NEVER. Abortion is, therefore, not murder--QED.)

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And no, I don't need you wanking in my comments section here. None of your comments will be published, and anyone who tries it will be insta-banned (and your e-mail will be saved to be forwarded to the appropriate authorities if you threaten me in any way).

Your hate speech stops here, bastards. Now go and get a life.

May 21, 2009

Some US citizens who get it...

....and who are out to make sure a certain deeply despised Bolivian ex-president feels it:

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"Goni: Human rights abuser fleeing justice in Chevy Chase"

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"The US harbors terrorists"

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"Human rights abuser living in Chevy Chase"; "...do you feel safer?"

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"Goni be gone!"

Looks like they might get their wish, too. Thomas Shannon, the US Undersecretary of State (for Western Hemispheric affairs) was in Bolivia today, talking with Evo up close and personal. One of the topics that came up was--drumroll please--the prospect of extraditing Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, so that he can face trial for the murder of 63 Bolivian protesters in person (instead of in absentia as is the case right now).

Does this mark a sea change in the US's stance on Bolivia? Let's hope it does.

PS: Otto reports that Branko Marinkovic is feeling a little, um, downhearted. Maybe he met with Shannon too--and got the bad news that Obama-ma doesn't intend to support him in his little fascist crusade to take Santa Cruz back from the uppity Injuns?

May 14, 2009

They're shuttin' Detroit down

A country song for all you city slickers.

PS: Detroit's not the only place hurting. Closer to my home, Oshawa is feeling the pain from the closure of a GM plant.

April 4, 2009

Jorge Recio on the Venezuelan coup of '02

In several documentaries of the coup d'état of April 11, 2002, you can see a group of Bolivarian demonstrators on Baralt Avenue in Caracas, picking up and carrying the limp form of a tall young man past a newspaper kiosk as shots ring out nearby. That man is Jorge Recio, a freelance photographer, and he was hit in the back by a bullet from the Metropolitan Caracas Police, who were firing from a riot truck at unarmed demonstrators--Chávez supporters--on and under Llaguno Bridge. Recio was not a demonstrator, however; he was just doing his job, documenting the day's events on film.

Jorge Recio survived, but at a heavy price: he is now paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. The pictures he took before he was wounded that day tell a story that some in the commercial media and the opposition are still trying to cover up and deny. Namely, that a majority of the injured and fatal victims of that day were supporters of President Chávez, not opposition demonstrators. And also that they were clearly not ambushing an opposition march (which never got within three city blocks of the bridge), but that they were ducking in an attempt to avoid being hit by the bullets coming at them not only from the uniformed police themselves, but from rooftop snipers and other hidden shooters working in collaboration with the police. Recio's pictures remain as key pieces of evidence incriminating the opposition-controlled Caracas police as collaborators in the coup.

Jorge Recio is not the only photographer to fall victim to the events of that day; in total, seven were shot. One, Jorge Tortoza, was hit in the head and later died in hospital. (His murder was also caught on film; in the clip below you can see clearly how his body did a clumsy half-somersault before falling to the pavement.) The opposition tried to claim him as one of theirs, but this lie was debunked by Tortoza's brother Edgar, who works with ASOVIC, a group of Chavista victims of the coup. (The opposition has its own victims' group, one which is less active and vocal than ASOVIC.) Edgar Tortoza reported that his brother's camera was stolen and, when recovered, the pictures found in it were not his. Conveniently for the coup perpetrators, anything incriminating in it was also missing!

Jorge Recio is still a photographer, but his perspective is much more limited now than it used to be. He received rehab in Cuba and says the care was not contingent on political support for Chávez. He now lives in Barcelona, Spain. Here he is, in his own words and pictures:

A few random thoughts on beauty queens

Remember this?

Sadly, it's more representative than exceptional. I shit thee not.

Oh come on, admit it. You know it as well as I do, gentle reader: Beauty queens are twits. It goes with the territory. They don't need no stinkin' depth; they have their looks, and in general, that gets them further than any dumbass has a right to go. They have no time or need to fill their heads with any information more useful than maybe which hairspray gives the best hold without actually looking like industrial-strength lacquer. Or which plastic surgeon does the best nose bobs and/or boob jobs.

No matter what anyone bleats about the brains or talent of any particular Miss, the fact remains that there has never been a Nobelist among them in any field. It's either dieting your way into that winning swimsuit, or saving the world; you cannot do both simultaneously. As Kim Chernin and Naomi Wolf have both eloquently pointed out, you cannot think straight and obsess over every mouthful at the same time. Your brain burns more calories than your thighs, so when you try to slim the one, you end up starving the other that much more. Food for thought, girls!

(And good luck trying to be a beauty queen without dieting; if you dare, you get viciously ripped like this Miss England wannabe.)

That said, I wonder how long it will be before the current Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza (presumably from Venezuela, but really from Mars) experiences a complete collapse of the skull. Her recent gushy gaffe about Gitmo is just as par for the course as the stupidities of Miss Teen South Carolina in the video. It's also not the first time a Miss Venezuela-turned-Miss Universe has put her foot in it; the first of the line, Maritza Sayalero, visited Chile, chatted up Augusto Pinochet, and thought he was simply divine. (No, I'm not shitting you about that, either.)

I don't like anything where women get judged directly (and let's face it, solely) on their superficial traits. But I have to admit I'm not a total militant about abolishing the beauty pageant, as inane and dangerous as it may be. I mean, we smart goodlookings will always have our smarts to fall back on if our looks fail us (and believe me, they will). What about the dumb ones? If there were no Miss Whatever pageants, whatever would become of the poor, intellectually ungifted Misses? As much as I roll my eyes over the idiocies of these girls, I'd hate to see them on a bread line or blowing creeps for crack near Queen and Roncesvalles.

Fortunately, there's a vast marketplace for female flesh that's been dieted, hairsprayed and surgically altered half to death. Miss Whatever can always find work peddling conflict diamonds, blue jeans sewn by slaves in Singapore, or--glory be!--the jewel of a beach resort that is Gitmo. At least, until her reign is over, whereupon she's free to become a billionaire's bride (or a millionaire's mistress), a soap opera star, a game-show letter-turner, even a high-end call girl...really, the possibilities are limited only by her IQ.

At the very least, she could always serve as the muse for a song like this one.

March 25, 2009

UN agrees: Porvenir WAS a massacre.

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(Shamelessly stolen from El Ventarrón. It was too good to pass up!)

A certain prefect from a certain Bolivian department is in the calabozo right now. Some kooky people in Miami (where else?) say he's an unjustly incarcerated "political prisoner". Well, people--is THIS political enough for you?

The representative in Bolivia of the Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, Denis Racicot, has confirmed that an investigation has found that the events of September 11, 2008, in the department of Pando were a massacre of campesinos.

Racicot presented the findings of the investigation in a press conference. The final conclusion established that the bloody events of that day "were a massacre committed by functionaries of the Prefecture of Pando and persons allied with that institution."

Translation mine.

Oh. I guess that means that the UN High Commission on Human Rights is also a hotbed of "Aymara communism". At least, if you believed the noise coming out of Miami, it would have to be. By their cockeyed lights, no other explanation would do.

On the other hand, if you've been following this blog, you'd know a lot better.

March 24, 2009

The indigenous people's holocaust

AMERICAN INDIAN Holocaust

How did Hitler learn genocide and eliminationism? By taking his cues from what happened in North America.

This concerns mainly what happened in the US, but in Canada it was not much better. Up here, we didn't have a Trail of Tears, but the Catholic and Anglican churches organized "residential schools" whose ostensible purpose was to educate the "Indians", but whose real purpose was to de-indigenize them--basically, to turn them into a lesser class of white people, to strip them of their native culture and languages. Many inmates in those "schools" suffered physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy people running them. Alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide are the inevitable fallout from such a holocaust.

And also, as Bruce Cockburn sings, "the local Third World's kept on reservations you can't see". Here, as in the US, the indigenous people were often shunted off to the worst land--the good farmland was set aside for white settlers. And if oil or other valuable minerals were found under the land they were on, guess what happened. Land-claims cases are before courts in several provinces, and many of them don't end well for the natives. Usually, it's the corporate sector that wins--"mineral rights" trump human rights, it seems. Even something as presumably simple as getting an ancestral burial ground back can turn into a decades-long nightmare. And on rare occasions, that too ends in death for the unlucky natives, who are still seen as second-class citizens by the authorities, and especially police, who can get trigger-happy and, in any case, don't need much to trigger their own racism.

What's weird, though, is that all this racism has spawned some unexpected blowback: some natives think that the international Jews are behind their troubles, instead of drawing the more obvious and correct conclusion (it's the gentiles, folks). Such was the case of David Ahenakew, who made headlines with some really stupid, bigoted remarks and who has since had a steep learning curve to climb. (Apparently, during his post-war military service, he met some old Nazis in Germany who filled his head with rubbish.)

But he's not the only one; a few years back, I met members of a prominent Mohawk family of artists, and apparently they subscribe to something frightfully similar! I was horrified and nauseated and heartsick about it for days, wondering how such talented and obviously intelligent people could fall for such a stupid lie. It's a no-brainer that instead of hating the Jews, they ought to be identifying with them instead, and looking for common ground.

After all, both peoples have suffered strikingly similar fates.

February 4, 2009

Why the Two-State Solution will fail

A remarkable CBS report presents the unvarnished facts on the apartheid state being built by Israel in the West Bank:

In Part 1, we see how the apartheid has already taken hold--and how the West Bank and Gaza have been intentionally fractured in an effort to gradually appropriate ALL Palestinian lands for settlement by Israel. A Palestinian doctor talks about how he has been edged out of being able to work in Jerusalem, the city of his birth. An apartment building where Palestinians live is routinely occupied by the Israeli army under the pretext of using it (the highest building on the highest hill in Nablus) as a lookout point. If that is the case--if they only use it as a surveillance post--why do the soldiers chase people out of their own homes and bedrooms? Why are the women corralled? Why are the children not allowed back into their own house after school?

In Part 2, we see how unemployment and poverty are being used to drive Palestinians further and further into a corner. Palestinian workers are forced to build Israeli settlers' compounds; Palestinian farmers are locked out of their own lands by the Wall of Shame. The unrepentant, intransigent arrogance of a settler mayor hammers it home. Will candidate Tzipi Livni keep her campaign promises and get the settlers out? The last time this solution was tried, the settlers made a huge to-do that embarrassed the government and weakened its will to evict illegal settlers. Meanwhile, Arabs are still being evicted from THEIR homes. Whatever could that mean?

January 22, 2009

Quotable: Sir Gerald Kaufman on Israeli double standards

Mike Malloy just played this on his radio show. There really is nothing to add to this, other than a loud, proud "RIGHT ON!"

January 19, 2009

The Rebel Rooster of Gaza

Venezuelan TV host Walter Martínez has lately taken to running a live feed from Ramattan TV on his show, Dossier. Since it's just before dawn in Gaza at the time of Dossier's live broadcast, you get to hear some interesting sounds from there:

...including the muezzin's call to prayer from a local mosque, the buzz of various drone planes patrolling with night-vision cameras, and...cock-a-doodle-dooooooo!...a defiant rooster, yelling his own "fuck youuuuuuu!" to the Israeli army holding the city under siege.

In this video, he appears to have company--several human voices join the cock-a-doodle chorus. And a Chilean cartoonist in Venezuela has also picked up on the rooster's rebellious symbolism:

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Long may he crow.

January 6, 2009

What the lamestream English media won't show on Gaza...

...Venezuelan TV will:

Walter Martínez and his excellent current events show Dossier bring you the whole story. Including some shocking violations of the Geneva Conventions, namely the use of white phosphorus on Gaza by the Israelis. Video in Spanish, but refreshingly propaganda- and bullshit-free.

January 4, 2009

Gaza through the eyes of the devastated, and some devastating truths

Video taken on December 27, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, by members of the International Solidarity Movement. As you can see, the devastation of the Israeli bombings is much more severe than the TV news in your area has probably led you to believe. In this video, a school and a police station suffered damage. It puts the dirty lie to all the assertions that the Israeli bombings are "surgical strikes". There was nobody from Hamas in the school OR the police station. These are NOT Hamas compounds. This is the targeting of civilians, a tactic of total war. Over 200 Gaza Palestinians died in this particular attack alone.

Incidentally, the Israeli military has a big PR offensive going. Apparently they've learned only one thing since their last attack on Lebanon, and it is NOT how to make peace or behave decently; it's how to get the major media and the Internets onside. They're now posting their PR on YouTube (and no, I'm not linking the channel; the last thing their propaganda needs is more admiring eyes.) They've already falsified one particularly nasty bombing, claiming to have taken out a truck full of Grad missiles when, in fact, it was a family that owned a welding shop, rescuing their oxygen cylinders from a bombed area. The incident was so grotesque, and the propaganda so blatant, that Israeli human rights group B'Tselem saw fit to decry both.

When an Israeli major says that "The blogosphere and new media are another war zone," you quickly realize that you're not about to get the truth from anyone with a dog in the fight. The coverage of the warring factions has fast dissolved into propaganda, and in the western media, it's definitely one-sided coverage favoring Israel. I have no more stomach for that side of the story than I have for hearing the propaganda of Hamas or any other militant group. It's not the warring factions whose story must be told, but that of the innocent, and that of those who demand peace. Human rights organizations on the ground are our best hope for getting the truth of what's going on in Gaza; let's hope they can continue to get videos like the above out to us. It's going to be harder to find, however, as the ground invasion of Gaza goes on; telephone lines and Internet access are collapsing as I write. Vital informational ties between Gaza and the world are being severed. Very likely we won't know the whole story until after the fact--that is, after the damage is done. And, most likely, after the Gaza strip has reverted to Israeli control, as I suspect is the real objective here.

This is not legitimate self-defence, nor is it a proportional response to the paltry amount of damage the Hamas rockets have done. There is no excuse for what either side has done, but it's clear to me who has done the most and the worst. Considering how the TV in my neck of the woods has been flooded for the past few months with tourism ads for Israel, stressing the word shalom, I find the irony striking. Have they forgotten that shalom means peace?

Even more striking is this: Hamas would never have achieved the strength it now has if Israel had not attempted to use it to drive a wedge between Palestinians, and to oppose the PLO. Now they have their blowback, and they are using it in turn to justify the eradication of Palestinian Gaza. Remind you of anyone or anything?

And of course, there's the unreported angle on this story: What happened to cause Hamas to start rocketing as soon as the ceasefire ended? I googled the terms "Israel, Hamas, ceasefire, provocation"--and found a snippet of a clue in a guest column by Rabbi Michael Lerner in the UK Times:

Hamas had respected the previously negotiated ceasefire except when Israel used it as cover to make assassination raids. Hamas argued that these raids were hardly a manifestation of a ceasefire, and so as symbolic protest it would allow the release of rocket fire (usually hitting no targets). But when the issue of continuing the ceasefire came up, Hamas wanted a guarantee that these assassination raids would stop. And it asked for more. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians facing acute malnutrition, Hamas insists that the borders be opened so that food can arrive unimpeded. And in return for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, it asks for the release of 1,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

Whoa there, hold up--ASSASSINATION RAIDS? Under the cover of a CEASEFIRE? Looks to me like someone was provoking Hamas on purpose. That puts rather a new light on all this pious talk of "self-defence" and Israel's right to exist, does it not?

And then I flash back on my earlier findings of Israel fostering Hamas, and another volley of questions arises: Why would Israel deliberately nurture a militant Palestinian group that will not acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Was it only trying to thwart the PLO? Or did it do so with full knowledge that if Hamas ever took power in a legitimate election, it would furnish Israel with an ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever?

Not being privy to what was going through the heads of a succession of Israeli leaders, I can only guess at their ultimate objectives in such an irrational act. But given the fact that Israel has now invaded Gaza, and given the fact that the airstrikes have been anything but surgical, it's definitely tilted my inner scales toward the pan labelled "ideal excuse for wiping out Palestine forever".

--Special thanks to Slave Revolt for asking me to comment on this matter.

December 27, 2008

I'm just sayin'...

Day before yesterday, I made some off-the-cuff observations:

I once worked, briefly, in a retail mall that had one major thing in common with [the Sambil La Candelaria]--no windows. Only the corridors had a poor semblance of windows--skylights, badly constructed ones shaped like prisms or pyramids, their glass sides set at a steep angle that grabbed a lot of sunlight but didn't soften it. The glass was not polarized or filtered in any way. This made for a nasty, stinging glare in the eyes--a glare you could only get relief from by ducking out of the middle of the hallway, and moving closer to the storefronts. I'm sure that was no coincidence!

Well, here's a picture of the inside of a Sambil. Not the one under construction in La Candelaria, but its upscale cousin in a "better" part of Caracas. I found it on Aporrea in an article appropriately titled "San Vil" ("Saint Vile"):

inside-sambil.jpg

Makes you go "hmmmm", don't it?

November 25, 2008

Bank Eat Bank: Why bailouts are making a bad thing worse

The untold story behind the use of taxpayer money to prop up big, bad banks as they carry on business as usual.

October 23, 2008

Once more, Chavecito is my hero

...for saying exactly what needs to be said, and in this case, proposing exactly what needs to be proposed:

A worldwide assembly of governments, in which frank conversations between diverse points of view on the current global crisis can be held, is what the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, proposed in his most recent conversation with his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy.

[...]

"I conversed a little while ago with Sarkozy and suggested to him that there be a meeting, not just between the largest countries in the world, but a worldwide assembly of governments, where we can hear each other out with patience and respect. But no, it seems that they are still all caught up in their own world," Chávez said.

Translation mine.

It would behoove the G-8 (and all the smaller countries touched by the US banking crisis) to take a closer look at Venezuela's economy and how it's gone nowhere but up since Chavecito's been at the helm. It's doing so well, in fact, that the "global" crisis might just do an "inexplicable" swerve, or hit less hard than widely expected. The Venezuelan Shield Effect (you saw that term here first, people, 'cuz I'm a-coining it!) will also help buffer countries with whom Venezuela has strong economic ties, most especially in the ALBA. Already, many leading economists are sitting up and taking notice, and urging some remarkably Chavecito-like measures.

Even now, as Venezuela prepares to confront the crisis on an "austerity" budget, social spending remains high, at close to half of all government expenditures. This is the opposite of what Bretton Woods recommends ("privatize everything and devil take the hindermost" is their mantra), but it's exactly what any responsible economist would tell a government facing an economic crisis to do: make sure the people still get the healthcare, education and other basic, publicly-served necessities of life.

With all that said, only a fool would dismiss out of hand a sensible, modest, 100% workable proposal like the one Chavecito made above. The man knows what he's doing, people. It's time to take him seriously, not as a demagogue, but as what he is--a popular statesman with sound economic ideas that keep on working where all the standard Bretton Woods remedies just keep on failing.

Just watch, however, as the oh, SO predictable black-helicopter nutters of the US 'winger brigade spin this as "OMG, Chávez wants a one-world government with himself in charge of it all!!! He really IS a tyrant and a dictator!!! War on Venezuela NOW!!!!Eleven!!!!"

In 5...4...3...2...

October 22, 2008

This just in: British journos are seriously stupid!

serious-cat.jpg

Media Lens, the British media watchdog group, finally draws a conclusion that I figured out for myself a long time ago: that while the British media may be slightly more liberal than their Yank counterparts, they're still piss-poor at doing their actual job--that is, if you consider said actual job to be informing the public of what is really going on in the world, so that the public in turn can do its part and change the world.

And also, that they're a bunch of snot-nosed toddlers with gargantuan egos:

Since starting Media Lens in 2001, we have learned that corporate journalists are very often ill-equipped, or disinclined, to debate vital issues with members of the public.

In 2004, the esteemed Lancet medical journal published a study showing that 98,000 Iraqis had most likely died following the US-led invasion. John Rentoul, chief political correspondent of the Independent on Sunday, responded with sarcasm when we challenged him about his dismissal of the peer-reviewed science:

"Oh no. You have found me out. I am in fact a neocon agent in the pay of the third morpork of the teleogens of Tharg." (Email, September 15, 2005)

Undoubtedly the redoubtable Mr. Rentoul thought he was being witty by saying that. Well, he's half right--but only half. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt about the morpork thing, but by uncritically repeating, for paid publication, what the neo-cons say, he is in fact making himself into their paid agent. It is only a question of whether they pay him directly or indirectly.

By the bye, Mr. Rentoul, blowing snot all over your readers is no more mature than trashing a really serious peer-reviewed medical publication, like the Lancet, for having the temerity to contradict you. I expect that of freepers, not real journalists doing real work in the field.

But maybe I'm being unkind. Perhaps Mr. Rentoul just didn't understand the question? If so, he's not the only one:

In 2003, Roger Alton, then editor of the Observer, also did not take kindly to a reader accusing him of peddling Downing Street propaganda on the eve of the invasion:

"What a lot of balls ... do you read the paper old friend? ... 'Pre-digested pablum from Downing Street...' my arse. Do you read the paper or are you just recycling garbage from Medialens?" (Email, February 14, 2003)

I do hope the reader in question replied to the oh-so-civilized Mr. Alton, something along these lines: "I, sir, do not recycle garbage...but you, sir, DO. It's nice to know that you are so environmentally friendly. From now on, sir, I will follow your example, and recycle your not-so-hard work forthwith as fish-wrap. It's more useful that way than if I actually read it, as I know full well you have not done with anything you got from Downing Street."

But even when the British media decide to get all Web 2.0 (or is it 3.0 by now?) and offer their readers an "interactive" space to opine in, a double standard still prevails:

Last week, Matt Seaton, editor of the Guardian's Comment is Free website, was asked why he dismissed readers of Media Lens as a mere "lobby", but not readers who post comments on his website. Seaton replied:

"because, unlike MediaLens readers, users of Comment is free are not given directives to spam journalists and others - and would not mindlessly follow such directives if they were" (Email, October 15, 2008)

Strange. I receive Media Lens e-mails from time to time, and I do not receive "directives" via them, let alone ones I follow "mindlessly". At the bottom of every one are suggested actions the readers can take, but these are only suggestions. Not all readers take them; certainly not I, because I've actually got a degree in journalism, have met a number of pros from various media, and have seen for myself what a load of monstrous egos and midget minds inhabit the field (yes, even here in nice, liberal, socialistic Canada). A few are as nice as they come (Ron MacLean of CBC Sports is one of those good eggs); others, many more others, are rude and downright nasty even if you ask them for nothing more than the time of day. I really don't feel like writing to those people, because I know in advance that it won't make a difference. I wouldn't get a satisfactory explanation, let alone a "gee, I never thought of that"; I'd count myself lucky to get snotty responses like those catalogued above.

No, I'd rather write of them than to them, and expose them with mockery here, because here, they can't cow or intimidate or (here comes a big bad word, kiddies) CENSOR me. This is my space, and if they ego-google themselves and happen to come across what I say about them, they get what they deserve. So far, not one of them has done so--or at least, not that I would know, because not one of them has expended the very minimal effort (a gentle fluttering of fingers over a keyboard) to say something back.

Hey media types, here's a little free advice for y'all: If you want to be taken seriously, start by taking your work seriously. Don't get all caught up in what Media Lens rightly criticizes as "professional navel-gazing, ego-burnishing and insider gossip." When you sink to that level, you are taking yourself seriously and your work lightly. The public does not benefit from this, unless perhaps you're thinking to cure our collective insomnia that way. (Melatonin works better. Try it sometime.)

If you're going to have a media section, put it to good use and do some real self-criticism once in a while. It may seem painful at first, it may even seem a little Marxist, but it won't hurt you to learn to take your work more seriously and yourselves more lightly. I do it all the time in my own writing, because I feel that I owe it to my readers, as many or as few as they may be. I do it in my poetry, my fiction, my essays, and yes, this blog. Even the silliest stuff, like my satire and my limericks, gets worked over until I feel it will pass muster and make somebody else's day.

The very least you "serious" journo-types can do, if you want the public to respond to you in kind, is to give some evidence that you are capable of independent thought. You can't do that if you recycle blatant nonsense, or praise it (like so many of you did with the Euston Manifesto, a self-congratulatory non-manifesto if ever there was one)--or if you're all wrapped up in cotton balls, insulated by self and station against what you perceive as the rabble. Hello, you're only human, you're a member of it too--get over it, and more importantly, GET OVER YOURSELVES!

And if you want to convince us that you are Serious Cats, don't lose the serious thread. Report the issues honestly--don't just play back what he said, what she said, what they said. Unless you have the nerve to examine what made them say it, you have no business being in the business. You may as well just hunch on your perches, fluff up your feathers, and say "Polly want a cracker", for all the serious difference you make.

October 18, 2008

Unreported news from Morelos, Mexico

Did you know a massacre took place there on October 9?

Here's the lowdown on what it's all about, courtesy Angry White Kid:

For almost two months, the teachers union in the Mexican state of Morelos rose up against the "Alliance for Quality Education", a neo-liberal plan akin to "No Child Left Behind" that would pave the way to the privatization of education, among other things.

They were supported by the people of Morelos in their marches, encampments in public plazas, and blockades of interstate highways. On Oct. 7, 8, and 9, the army and state and federal paramilitary police were sent in to brutally smash the movement. This model is a mirror of the crackdown that occurred in Oaxaca in 2006 and has enraged teachers and the public across Mexico.

The struggle in Morelos echoes exactly what is going on in Oaxaca, where a teachers' strike turned into a full-fledged rebellion against a bad local governor in 2006 and the resistance is still going strong--and also, largely unreported by mainstream media.

But what's really taboo here, in terms of mainstream reporting, is exactly what both these rebellions--which are not isolated events--really mean. The fact that the last Mexican federal election was blatantly stolen from the progressive Andres Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO, for short) has never been forgotten, and never been forgiven, either. George Dubya Bush's handpicked candidate "won"--with a little help from his gringo friends. Greg Palast has evidence that the fraud wasn't even subtle. And that fraud is what's really being protested here; the privatization of education is part of Felipe Calderon's neoliberal/neo-con agenda. An agenda that was imposed very much against the will of a majority of Mexicans from all states, not only Oaxaca and Morelos (which is, incidentally, the birthplace of the great revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata.)

Gee, I can't imagine why the lamestream media want to hush all this rebellion up and fixate on the phony drug war instead, can you?

October 14, 2008

Why economic globalization really, REALLY stinks

Sure, it's easy for us lefties to say that corporate globalism sucks the big banana. We've been saying that for over two decades now. But if you want to see, not just hear, why it's a bad idea, I suggest you give this nice fella from Iceland a blog-call. Here's an excerpt from his post, "Surreal Reykjavik", about what life's been like in the smallest, cutest capital in the world since stockmarkets in much bigger cities took a header last week.

It's like we know the system is broken, we know it's gone, but we can't see it. We can't tell what's real, what's still there, and what are just the ghosts of yesterday, when Iceland was one of the richest countries in the world. A pale reflection of the golden age in Icelandic economy which is now going up in flames. Where's the smoke?

The world is treating us like we're dead. Bank accounts frozen. No buziness without cash payments in advance. No currency can be bought. The stock market is closed (not that I have anything left there). Imports have stopped because of closed currency markets and diapers, flour, sugar and other neccesities are selling out in the shops.

I would like to remind the world that the banks went down because of a chain reaction - that started in the US. I'm not going to tell you the chain of events, the intervention of politicians, the misunderstandings, the dispute with Britain where they used their anti-terrorist laws to confiscate Icelandic assets. I'm not trying to find someone to blame. But I would like to tell you that we still have a lot of innovative and prominent companies in Iceland, and you might actually get a pretty good deal there at the moment, as the Icelandic Krona is so low.

[...]

People are well aware of the pshycological effect of the bank crises. For me, it's the biggest shock since my mother-in-law's sudden death. I fear that the society will be going through a similar cycle. We're in stage one - the disbelieve and numness. When routine hits us and we realize that we don't have our money and can't pay the bills, start losing our cars and homes, then the real sorrow and sadness sinks in. And it happens at the worst time of the year, when the nights are getting longer and longer. In December we have 20 hours of complete darkness. That will be a very tough month. Suicides are already being reported.

The minister of education, Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, has sent an email out to all schools in the country with some guidelines on how to react. In the television ads are running reminding people that the most precious things in life - are free! Helplines have been opened. And people are being reminded that if you're not one of those going broke, keep on spending like normally. The economy really needs it.

The last time I read anything out of Iceland was during my second-last year at Queen's University, when I took an Old Norse course (and Introduction to Beowulf, with the same great prof) in lieu of something much drier, to cover the linguistics requirements of my English Lit degree. It was great fun to translate a portion of the Svarfdaela Saga, which had never been translated into English. It was also bolshy fun to read about the Norse Gods, whom I worshipped quite a bit in those early days of my pagandom, in the language they themselves were supposed to have spoken. And it was lovely to see, in National Geographic, a large but polite contingent of Icelanders turn out to protest against warmongering and nukes when Ronald Reagan attended a summit in Reykjavik and paid a courtesy call to Vigdís Finbogadóttir, Iceland's first female president. A pagan priest called on Freyr and Njörður to protect Iceland from the nuclear menace, and cast a curse (called a nið) on war. Apparently it worked, for Iceland remained peaceful, uncontaminated, and nuke-free even after the old gasbag had gone his sulphur-scented way. (Never underestimate a good Icelandic curse!)

This would probably be a good time for me to dust off my old robes (and Old Norse dictionary!), and cast a nið of my own to help our little neighbor Iceland shake off the crapitalist curse and get its collective groove back. After all, Iceland's a groovy little place. The language is as close to pure Old Norse as you'll find anywhere in Scandinavia. The people are as cool there as you'll find anywhere. They deserve better than to lose it all on someone else's fiscal follies.

October 13, 2008

Economy, ecology...they're closer than you think

This piece on the Beeb gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not because it tells me anything new, but because finally, a mainstream media outlet is publishing what regular enviro-lefties like me have known for a long, long time:

The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.

[...]

Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.

"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," he told BBC News.

"So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."

[...]

Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.

So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.

Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.

So, in other words: The economy is more dependent on the ecology than most crapitalists believe. And if they go on wantonly destroying our ecology, everyone will have to pay a price...EVERYONE. Including the disaster capitalists who, in Naomi Klein's book, thought that they could own the world and simply jet away from all natural disasters to some well-appointed, "plutonomy"-friendly desert island.

Get scared, rich people, you're no more immune than the rest of us.

October 9, 2008

Scary Thought #10: Prepare to soil yourselves again, folks...

The National Debt Clock in Manhattan is now too small for the number it's meant to tally.

You may want to avoid Wall St., I hear they're about due for a shower of suiciding stockbrokers.

October 4, 2008

Money as Debt

Okay, class, here's your weekend assignment:

Watch this 47-minute video. Don't mind the cheesy animation; pay attention to the very simple lessons contained therein. If you do, you might just end up understanding the whole US (and world) credit crisis that ended up costing the US taxpayers such a mint (literally) this Black Friday.

You may also end up understanding why I keep returning to such economic oddballs as Chavecito's ALBA, fair trade, and other non-monetarist harebrained schemes that just might work like gangbusters--literally.

(Thanks to Corey for the video link!)

October 2, 2008

People are disappearing in Peru

Does Alan Garcia give a shit? Aporrea thinks not:

Human rights groups have denounced the disappearance of 11 persons during military operations to search for a column of Shining Path guerrillas in southeastern Peru.

The denunciation was made by a peasant woman who "escaped a military incursion in the hamlet of Pichis, where soldiers arrived on September 14 by air and ground, shooting and launching rockets", according to Yúber Alarcón, representative of the Pro-Human Rights Association of Ayacucho, quoted by AFP.

The woman, Lucy Pichardo Fernández, fears that her husband, and five other family members--two children among them--and five lumberjacks have been killed by the military, Alarcón added.

Paula Capcha, the campesina's attorney, said that she had presented the denunciations to the People's Defender and the magistrate's office of Ayacucho, as well as a habeas corpus so that the authorities offer information as soon as possible.

"We don't know right now if they have been killed or kidnapped, and that's why the family members want to know the whereabouts of their loved ones," Capcha told AFP.

Translation mine.

And of course, the government of Peru isn't exactly quick off the mark on this; their defence minister will say nothing except to deny that any of the missing people have been "detained" by the militaries.

So, then, the operative question becomes, Who disappeared these missing people? After all, they didn't just wander off and disappear themselves. Will the government of Peru be laying all this at the feet of commies yet again?

Just one more example of what Otto calls "investment grade" Peru, no doubt.

September 28, 2008

Quotable: Adolfo Gilly places Bolivian racism in a nutshell

"In that domination, being a full citizen means being white or an assimilated mestizo. To become a citizen, an Indian must stop being Indian and see themselves and be seen as being white; break from their concrete historical community, that of the Aymaras, the Quechuas, the Guaraníes or another one of the many indigenous Bolivian communities; and enter as a newly-arrived subordinate into the abstract community of the citizens of the Republic. The Indian does not expect that the Republic will change and be like his people. Instead, it is required that these people change their men and women, renounce their identity and their history and be like the Republic of the whites, the rich, the educated, the Spanish-speakers — where, for everyone else, the inerasable color of their skin will forever condemn them (those men and women) to second-class citizenship. That is the nature of this domination."

--Adolfo Gilly, at Ukhampacha Bolivia

September 2, 2008

A prophet in her own country

Amy Goodman's arrest yesterday at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, may be just a sideline in the US, but in other countries, it's big news. Aporrea, the popular Venezuelan news portal, made her story top of their headlines today.

Why the hoopla? Because Amy, along with Democracy Now co-host Juan Gonzalez, was the first US journalist to interview Hugo Chavez on US soil. (She and Juan followed it up two years ago with a similar, hour-long interview of Chavecito's good friend and ally, Evo Morales of Bolivia--another first.)

Suffice to say that while the US mainstream media largely ignores the work of Amy and her colleagues, it does not go unnoticed in Latin America--where she has a large fan following simply because her handling of the news is so evenhanded--and because, unlike most US-based reporters, she does not report what Washington wants people to see, but what is actually going on. That kind of thing is hugely appreciated in any maligned, misunderstood part of the world.

September 1, 2008

Something is very wrong with this picture

From Aporrea, some shocking facts about soap operas in Mexico:

Each episode of the soap opera "Fire in the Blood", one of the most-watched in Mexico, contains an average of 50 scenes of violence against women, according to a study presented by an association of Mexican non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The tracking, which ran for ten episodes between July 14 and 25, detected a total of 498 scenes "in which various forms of violence against women occurred or were justified", according to the study, conducted by the Citizens' Council for Gender Equality in the Media.

Of the 498 scenes, 313 enacted acts of psycho-emotional violence, 66 physical violence, 17 femicidal violence, and 5 sexual violence, according to the EFE news agency.

Continue reading "Something is very wrong with this picture" »

August 21, 2008

Who writes these dumbass editorials?

More tired old "21st century socialism looks just like 20th", courtesy the Financial Times.

More tired old "Chavez is a dictator", courtesy the Richmond Times Dispatch.

And in the grand (tired) old tradition of unsigned editorials, the authors are not named (to protect the guilty, of course.) It would be nice to know, for a change, to whom one must hand back their lying ass. Accountability is such a buzzword these days, so why not there?

Well, at least one truly outstanding Brit twit has the courage to put his name and his tired, defeated old mug at the top of his even more tired, defeated old stupidities at the UK Telegraph. He maunders on about how marriage has "crumbled" since 1979 (really? then why all the married couples, including my parents, who are still together for over 40 years now?) He also rambles about the misleadingness of the Gini coefficient, which is actually rather reliable. He blathers on about how poverty is "elective" and based on "dependency" (name one person outside a monastery who has freely chosen poverty, sir). Oh yeah, and he calls Venezuela "Marxist", as though Simon Bolivar were just some equestrian statue covered with pigeon droppings. Could it possibly get more tired and derivative?

This old dobbin is just ripe for the glue factory; his carcass is hanging by a thread, but it's still a lot more coherent and less crumbly than his brittle arguments about how the rich lift up the rest of us, just by virtue of their "wealth creation". Gee, haven't thirty-odd years of fascist-imposed neoliberalism proved as much?

But hey, let's give him the No Bull Please Prize for this pronouncement:

Continue reading "Who writes these dumbass editorials?" »

August 19, 2008

Yep, that Catholic church is sure progressing...

What century is this again?

Rev. Sergio G. Roman sounded the alarm against miniskirts in an online publication to prepare Catholics for a church family-values forum next year in Mexico City.

"When we show our body without prudence, without modesty, we are prostituting ourselves," wrote Roman, a Mexico City priest.

Continue reading "Yep, that Catholic church is sure progressing..." »

August 18, 2008

Jeremy Scahill has a YouTube channel!

If you ever wanted to know about US mercenaries and just how low they can go, this is the guy who wrote the book. It's called Blackwater, and it's not pretty, but it's one compelling read. It will wake you right up to the dangers of privatizing everything--including the worst of the worst, namely war. So far, Blackwater and all its false fronts have been immune from prosecution, but that could all change if the government of Iraq manages to cut enough of its puppet strings.

Let's hope so!

August 14, 2008

Alan fiddles while Pisco burns

Alan Garcia--dancing, I think

Alan Garcia finally takes his doctor's advice and starts his new aerobics program. Maybe he'll finally lose some of that weight.

Crikey, what is up with the president of Peru? Dancing around like a marionette while Pisco is still in such rough shape? And the LatAm president who's actually done something helpful there is not himself but evil, wicked Chavecito--who, if Reuters says true (and you can never be too sure with English-language wires these days), is only doing it to prop up the chances of his Peruvian pal, Ollanta Humala?

At this rate, the Peruvians probably wish they had voted for Ollanta in the first place. At least he wouldn't look so ridiculous trying to dance.

August 5, 2008

Racism, branded on the skin

Video (in Spanish) about the prevalence of racism in Venezuela. It's a fact much denied by the upper classes (who are overwhelmingly white), but when seen through "black" eyes, it becomes impossible to miss. Example: A group of young blacks makes the journey into the rich Eastern Caracas district of Chacao, which prides itself on its "security", to go nightclubbing. The doorman won't let them in--on account of age (he says). Yet right in front of them, a much younger group of whites has no trouble getting in, without so much as a request for ID. Yet the doorman denies that race had anything to do with it; he even trots out the "some of my best friends are" line which is a well known cover for all kinds of discrimination (you'll probably recognize it from up here, too).

This is just one of many instances of blatant racism and denial that you'll encounter throughout this 40-minute documentary. In another, a very notorious incident which took place several months ago, a white Televen talk show host and her guest, an Italian woman, make blatantly racist remarks about the "laziness" and "criminality" of the typical Venezuelan (who is not white!), while another guest, a black comedian, just sits there and takes it. You can see the hurt on his face, as clear as the palmprint from a slap. There are also snippets from opposition websites and forums in which President Chavez's face is photoshopped to look like that of an ape, along with more blatant racism. (It's very common among the oppos to refer to non-whites, especially their own president, as "monkeys". It's also common for them to deny, almost in the same breath, that their remarks have anything to do with racism!)

But the part that got to me the most was when the young narrator calls out her grandmother--who is clearly black--and the latter shows off her wedding photo. Talk about photoshopping! It's as if all possible traces of Africa were expunged from the picture; bride and groom have lightened complexions, and their features and hair are carefully "neutralized" to look as little afrodescendent as possible. This, along with all the advertising images of white, blond models selling everything from makeup to candy, all the whiter-than-white beauty queens, makes clear just how prevalent and ingrained the racism is. When you can't "look nice" on your own wedding day without trying to look as white (in other words, as much like the "pretty" models) as possible, you know you live in a racist society.

And only when the denial stops can the real work of change begin.

July 18, 2008

Al Gore, I love you!

Watch this, and in half an hour, I guarantee you'll be in love too:

Al Gore makes the case for a no-carbon energy economy. And in so doing, he kills a lot of crapitalist birds with one stone. It's a brilliantly simple, totally viable solution. All that's lacking is the collective will to make it happen. And if his speech doesn't motivate you to do your part, you must be dead from the neck up.

July 14, 2008

Hideous tanorexia strikes again!

There she is, Miss Universe. Big whoop.

"Oh God, I won a rhinestone tiara for one whole year! All the torture has been worth it!"

Well, here's a foregone conclusion that I wish the world could forego: Once again, a totally un-Venezuelan-looking Miss Venezuela has been crowned a very un-universal Miss Universe. And some brave "independent" Australian kookaburra has seen fit to lay an egg on the Internets about it. (Insert obligatory reference to communism and tyranny anywhere you like, mate. And don't forget to totally ignore the distinctions between communism and socialism.)

Meanwhile, for the real lowdown on this ultra-hyped pseudo-event, we turn to Aporrea, which has the scoop on where the real tyranny lies--and no, it ain't communism or even socialism. Here goes my rough translation of selections from the article, with commentaries in between:

Continue reading "Hideous tanorexia strikes again!" »

June 22, 2008

It's not just Evo or Chavecito...

...it's all of Mercosur rejecting that draconian, disgusting European "Return Statute"--you know, the one that deprives undocumented immigrants of all legal rights, including recourse to an attorney before the country they're in decides to boot them out--after a prison stay of up to a year and a half?

On Friday, the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and its associated countries expressed their "firm repudiation" of the discrimination supported by the European Union's directive of return for irregular immigrants, approved this past week by the Europarliament. The law decrees incarceration of 18 months for the undocumented.

"The governments of the participant and associate states of Mercosur deplore the approval on the part of the European Parlilament of the "return directive", announced a communication from the Argentine Chancery, which heads the South American union at this time.

Argentine diplomatic sources say that the EU's measure will be debated at the Summit of Heads of State of Mercosur, which will take place on July 1 in the Argentine city of Tucumán.

Continue reading "It's not just Evo or Chavecito..." »

June 8, 2008

Synchronicity works in mysterious ways

So here I am, listening to a test-cast by my mega-talented friend Tony "T-Bone" Jones. It's called "Song of Bobby Kennedy", and it's about 20 minutes of trance-dance electronica interspersed with a rousing and cautionary speech by Bobby Kennedy. "A time of change and a time of sorrow." It's about racism and violence and senseless bloodshed--it is on the assassination of Dr. King.

But another friend, R. A. "Deck" Deckert, sent me this link, and guess what's the first story at the top?

The columnist Steve Lopez, writing in The Los Angeles Times about Juan Romero, the busboy who knelt down to help Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot at the Ambassador Hotel. The paper's Daily Mirror blog reprinted the column, first published five years ago, last week on the 40th anniversary of the assassination:

Continue reading "Synchronicity works in mysterious ways" »

June 5, 2008

The myth of happy racism

Found a little item on Aporrea and thought I'd translate it and follow up with a few thoughts of mine own:

Could it be that my black friends in the Venezuelan opposition don't feel that they are being alluded to when other oppositionists use words like "niches" (common, vulgar people), "monos" (monkeys), "macacos" (ditto), etc.? Could it be that they just don't say such things in front of my friends? It saddens me to say that in front of me, yes, they say those things.

The Venezuelan right-wing has trouble with its racism for two reasons, one bigger than the other. The smaller is that, as Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said, the main difference between Colombia and Venezuela is that in Colombia, the conservatives win all the wars, and in Venezuela, the liberals win. The conservatives lose the wars but win the peace and go on ruling, because the only visible gain left to the liberals is that racism had become shameful and official ideology camouflaged it. There was racism, stupid like all a priori segregation between people, but up until 1998 it was shifty and artful. The racists would surely blush to show themselves as much as they do in Bolivia. Because in Venezuela--this is the bigger reason--even the most "aryan" has an African grandmother, as Romulo Betancourt once said.

Continue reading "The myth of happy racism" »

June 3, 2008

Brigitte Bardot, phoquez-vous!

I'm always amazed that the same people who bawl over baby seals in some other part of the world have so little regard left over for abused humanity coming to their own shores. Take (please!) the example of Brigitte Bardot, recently convicted of racist hatemongering:

A leading French anti-racism group known as MRAP filed a lawsuit last year over a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. The remarks were published in her foundation's quarterly journal.

In the December 2006 letter to Sarkozy, now the president, Bardot said France is "tired of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts."

Bardot, 73, was referring to the Muslim feast of Aid el-Kebir, celebrated by slaughtering sheep.

Continue reading "Brigitte Bardot, phoquez-vous!" »

May 27, 2008

Quotable: Barry Nolan on the myth of free speech

"In today's America, speech is only 'free' when you are talking down to someone less powerful that you. Speak 'up' — and look out.

"In your work life, they can fire you, as I found out, for quietly saying something that is widely known to be true. Put a lid on it."

--Barry Nolan, who was fired for telling the awful truth about Bill O'Reilly at an awards banquet where the latter was undeservedly honored for being a professional liar

May 13, 2008

Real terrorism in a nutshell

But of course, the US has the adults in charge of the government, so none of this would EVER happen. Right? RIGHT???

April 25, 2008

Ever been glad you couldn't afford something?

Then you probably know just what I'm feeling about LASIK after reading this...

Patients unhappy with their laser eye surgery urged U.S. health regulators to do more to limit poor results, saying complications from the LASIK procedure have taken a toll on their sight and emotions.

Blurred vision, dry eyes, glare and double-vision have led to depression and in some cases suicide, several patients told a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel.

"Since LASIK, I am visually handicapped," said patient David Shell, adding that he has near constant eye pain and depression. "My eyes never feel comfortable... 10 years have passed and I still suffer from this problem."

And just think--you pay by the eye for this. Or should that be through the nose? Either way, I'm glad I still wear my glasses and contacts, even if they ARE inconvenient at times. It beats committing suicide because some butcher with a laser fucked up your eyes.

Festive Left Friday Blogging: For cute Evo-pix, sign here

Some Evo-cuteness from a petition site

Yes, I know...I'm shameless. But if you want to see cute pix of Evo AND express your social conscience, Todos Con Bolivia is the place to go.

And don't forget to sign their petition.

(Thanks to Corey and Madalena for directing me to the site!)

April 21, 2008

Quotable: Gary Kamiya on what to do about terrorism

"The only effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to work to end the conditions that give rise to it. In the case of Islamist terrorism, this means a comprehensive and enlightened political, economic and diplomatic strategy for dealing with the Arab/Muslim world. Only a tiny minority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims support radical jihadis, but catastrophic errors like invading Iraq make violent fundamentalism more attractive. Follow the physician's credo: First, do no harm."

--Gary Kamiya, "Iraq: The Ten Commandments", at Salon.com

April 7, 2008

Cuba: Canary in the global coalmine

Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez tells how his country adapted to economic and ecologic necessity thanks to the big US embargo aimed at starving the revolution out:

To outsiders, the Cuban system is frequently presented in the media as a failure; its successes (not to mention its fifty-plus years of sheer survival, which is its biggest success!) don't rate a mention. Just look at all the recent hoopla over cellphones and DVD players; only capitalistic "successes" make the news, and the fact that they don't remedy more pressing human needs is conveniently swept under the rug. Too bad that capitalism itself is still busy denying the obvious: that its own "grow or die" model has been an unmitigated disaster, responsible for everything from a rise in poverty and diseases, to global warming itself. In light of that, the Cuban model doesn't look so dumb.

Continue reading "Cuba: Canary in the global coalmine" »

April 6, 2008

Five Years Too Many

Veterans For Peace staged a brilliant bit of civil disobedience in Washington on the 5th anniversary of IraqAttaq. The vets marched, delivered a citizens' arrest warrant for Dubya, the Big Dick and Auntie Condi and unfurled a large replica of the Constitution to raucous cheers on the steps of the National Archives. Watch for cameo appearances from Buddy Georgia ("drummerboy" on UNN) and Buffy Ste. Marie.

April 4, 2008

Bobby Kennedy on the murder of Dr. King

March 25, 2008

I got your gratitude right here, Pat...

Pat Buchanan is always good for shits 'n' giggles, if your idea of shits 'n' giggles is blatant racism, ethocentrism, xenophobia and general kookoobananarama. It's a mystery to me why this guy gets any media play at all, but I've come to the conclusion that the US mainstream media is just basically a Barnum & Bailey bigtop without the sawdust, greasepaint, and tutu-clad girls doing handstands on prancing Percherons. How else to explain the fact that a sucker there is born every minute, and a clown who says things like this gets no laughs?

In a March 21 syndicated column headlined "A Brief for Whitey," conservative commentator and MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan asserted, "America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known." Buchanan was discussing Sen. Barack Obama's March 18 speech addressing race and controversial comments by his former pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright. He continued, "Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American." Buchanan then asserted that "no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans." Later in the column, Buchanan added: "We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?"

No gratitude? Well, how do you like that--Pat thinks those uppity niggruhs are ingrates. Hey Pat, since none of them will thank you, maybe a white Soviet Canuckistani can do it in their stead. So, I got your gratitude right here:

Continue reading "I got your gratitude right here, Pat..." »

March 10, 2008

A former FBI interrogator on torture

Yes, Foreign Policy is a smelly rag with some pretty horrible biases and outright distortions. (Their blog also sucks because it can't keep the most basic facts straight, such as the identities of non-white supermodels.) But Jack Cloonan's words to them on the subject of torture are well worth hearing:

BTW, he totally shoots down the "24" scenario of the "ticking bomb" that can only be defused by a torture-obtained confession. He also points out that torture victims tend to become martyrs to their supporters, even if they are "the bad guys" to those on the other side. Not to mention that it really, REALLY makes the torturers look like shits.

February 20, 2008

No, you can't.

A big-ass bucket of cold water on Barack Obama? Yes, it is.

But then again, it's also a pretty accurate picture of what conservatism really stands for.

February 12, 2008

Hard truths on war-torn Iraq

A veteran for peace, in his 80s, shows what he found on a recent trip to Iraq.

Warning: Very disturbing images.

February 10, 2008

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Hard home(boy) truth about FUX Snooze:

...and a shout-out to Barack Obama at the end. Let's hope that if nominated and elected, he'll be able to make REAL change to all this.

February 5, 2008

Q. Why does Stormfront hate human rights?

A. Because Stormfront hates everything and everyone except their fellow neo-Nazi whackjobs, duh.

What's really funny is that they're now holding up two people they would otherwise look upon as sworn enemies as champions of their, uh, "right to free speech".

A Liberal MP is being hailed as a poster boy for free speech on a white supremacist website.

Victoria MP Keith Martin was praised Friday on stormfront.org, a website that proudly displays the logo "White pride world wide" and links to radio addresses by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

Martin earned the dubious distinction after giving notice that he plans to introduce a private member's motion calling on the government to repeal Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

[...]

The extreme right adherents at Stormfront were clearly thrilled to find a member of the Liberal party, which introduced the act and prides itself as the party of the Charter of Rights, joining their crusade.

"The sordid Soviet-style reign of terror by the Canadian Human Rights Commission is now out in the open," declares Paul Fromm in a posting on the website.

"The CHRC reign of thought control looks like a drying pool of vomit on the dirty floor of some dingy dive. Yes, it stinks and good men are beginning to speak up."

Fromm, a controversial anti-immigration and free speech activist who has been linked to neo-Nazi groups in the past, predicts it "may be easier" for Conservative MPs to back the motion because it's being introduced by a Liberal of "white and Indian (India) parentage."

The website urges readers to join a campaign to pressure their MPs to support Martin's motion.

For Martin, receiving praise from a white-supremacist group was both unwelcome and ironic.

"I'm a brown guy," he quipped in an interview.

Wait a second, you say--that's just one of them. Who's the other?

Continue reading "Q. Why does Stormfront hate human rights?" »

February 4, 2008

Neal Boortz: Useless, worthless parasite

Warning: Extreme victim-blaming by someone who probably does EVERYTHING he accuses Those People (i.e. the poor and blacks of New Orleans, whom he calls "GARBAGE") of doing...

Malmö Blue writes:

YOU, the consumer can do something to protest this smut and get this guy off the air!

Do like Nancy, a regular caller to KPHX, who has already announced that she will cancel her cable service provided by COX Communications Inc., owner of WSB 750 AM! Good for you, Nancy!

Be sure to let them know in writing that you disapprove of such hate mongering and will not have any business dealings with any company who supports it...

Address:

Cox Communications Inc.

1400 Lake Hearn Drive

Atlanta, Georgia 30319 U.S.A.

Telephone:

(404) 843-5000

Cox subscribers, please exercise your wallet power. Get this racist scumbag off the air. He is a useless, worthless parasite of the public airwaves, and it is time to kick this pile of trash to the curb.

February 2, 2008

Rebellion of the Oaxaquenas

The women of Oaxaca, Mexico, were a key force in the organization of the popular dissent that began in 2006 and continues to this day. They took over a TV station for an hour when they realized that the local media was full of shit and would not tell the truth about the popular rebellion. Even women who had never been politically active in their lives said no to the old roles of oppressor and oppressed that are so deeply engrained in gender relations all over the world (and especially in machista societies in Latin America.) They left the kitchen, ignored the soap operas (those reinforcers of the old victim role of their gender) and joined a march of more than 20,000 women.

Being a female activist is fraught with danger; men can be killed, but women can be raped first. And even if rape doesn't happen, genderized humiliation and assault are common. One of the women, an indigenous Mixteca, tells of how the police hacked off her hair in an attempt to debase her not only on the grounds of gender, but ethnicity as well.

Ironically, though, after some initial shock, the men rallied around the women. Men saw the women's takeover of Channel 9, and were inspired to take up other grassroots media activities because of it. Husbands showed up at the jails to cheer their incarcerated wives; while mothers were imprisoned, the fathers looked after the children and told them to take pride in what their mothers were doing. The ongoing rebellion in Oaxaca is not only against a corrupt government and political system, but also a way of looking at gender and power relations at the root of society itself.

January 30, 2008

Oaxaca in revolt

"Compromiso Cumplido" (True to My Pledge)--the first part of a two-part documentary about the ongoing revolt in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Part of this film concerns the death of Brad Will, the Indymedia reporter who got directly involved--and paid with his life for the footage he shot. At the time this documentary was made, 25 activists had died. All their murders were state-sanctioned and committed either by police or plain-clothes paramilitary infiltrators, which is why the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. The corrupt political system in Mexico is as much a villain in these deaths as the gunmen who pulled the trigger.

What began as a teachers' strike for better wages has since grown into a full-blown social justice movement--there is now a push on to get rid of the crooked governor, Ulises Ruiz, who played a part in the election fraud that put the current right-wing Mexican president into power. Oaxaca, it turns out, was a scene of massive electoral fraud. And the people are angry; they know that they were cheated of a free, fair election. This is why they want more than just more money for teachers or the removal of a bought-and-sold governor. They want a system-wide change--a full-fledged democracy that Mexico has yet to achieve. Elections alone are not enough, especially in light of how the last one was fouled. And the major media, who are complicit in the whole crime, must also be held accountable.

The struggle continues. You can read all about it at NarcoNews.

January 21, 2008

A letter to Mike Malloy

I decided to get busy with the e-mail tonight. Let's see if this gets read on the air.

To: mike@mikemalloy.com

Subject: Maybe it's not my place to say this, but...

Hey, Mike...

Maybe it's not my place to say this, as a white Canadian woman who was just a baby in diapers when Dr. King was killed. Obviously I have no grand and glorious MLK "experiences" to share. So I'll try to spit my bit without resorting to the usual media encomiums and pablum about him. God knows we've all heard enough of those today.

Continue reading "A letter to Mike Malloy" »

January 20, 2008

I hereby declare war...

...on greed.

You can fight this war too. Click here to learn how.

January 19, 2008

Gore Vidal on The Real News

A set of interviews with Gore Vidal, the shocking, provocative and painfully honest elder statesman of American literature.

January 16, 2008

Quotable: Naomi Klein on neoliberal bullshit

"What I dislike most about the trickle-down democracy argument is the dishonor it pays to all the people who fought, and fight still, for genuine democratic change in their countries, whether for the right to vote, or to have access to land, or to form unions. Democracy isn't the work of the market's invisible hand; it is the work of real hands....Real democracy--true decision-making power in the people's hands--is always demanded, never granted."

--Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate

January 8, 2008

Third World invades First World! Film at 11...

Well, actually, no film. Why? Because this isn't sexy enough for TV, compared to Britney's latest camera-friendly freak-out:

The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented.

The report by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the journal Health Affairs, said 101,000 deaths per year could have been prevented by access to timely and effective healthcare. The top performers were France, Japan and Australia.

Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at deaths "amenable to healthcare before age 75 between 1997-98 and 2002-03."

The researchers found that while other countries saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16 percent, the United States experienced only a 4 percent decline. "It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.," said Nolte, lead author of the study.

Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen said the finding that other countries are reducing preventable deaths more rapidly with less money "indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference."

Translation from Wonkish to plain English: Knock off with all the free-market shit, America, you are starting to eat your young! Get single-payer public healthcare already, and take some lessons from your neighbors to the north!

Of course, to say something like that would make one a socialist, and everyone knows socialism is evil. Milton Friedman said so. (So do some "Christian" wackos with obviously zero knowledge of the subject.)

Soon as I find out where they buried Friedman, I swear I will make a pilgrimage to piss on his grave. I think it's quite right to hold him responsible for the current mess, and I hate what he's done to my American friends.

What a pity we Canadians don't have another John Kenneth Galbraith on hand to lend our buddies to help them get themselves sorted out properly.

January 5, 2008

The face of fucking craziness

I'm sorry to inflict this on y'all, but...

Continue reading "The face of fucking craziness" »

December 27, 2007

More proof that Dubya doesn't read

...and neither does he, nor any of his lackeys, have the slightest concept of a little thing known as reading comprehension.

Think Progress has ferreted out the real source of Dubya's antipathy to embryonic stem cell research--a total misinterpretation of an improbable scenario from Aldous Huxley (read aloud to him, of course, by one of his loyal flunkies, since Dubya can't be bothered to bestir himself):

Continue reading "More proof that Dubya doesn't read" »

December 25, 2007

Christmas in the Trenches

John McCutcheon tells the story of his ballad and the dedicated band of German followers it won him.

Continue reading "Christmas in the Trenches" »

Holiday cheer from around the world

Poor St. Nick--Yuletide isn't over yet, and already it's getting awfully rough on him. In Bethlehem, he got busted:

Israeli soldiers arrested various Palestinians--among them, one dressed as St. Nicholas--who were protesting the apartheid wall which the Israeli Zionist occupiers had built in that location.

Residents of Bethlehem, a city famed as the birthplace of Christ, had been protesting peacefully against the occupying forces and the "wall of shame" which separates the Palestinian lands and families.

Translation mine. Photos at the link; warning--may scar your little children for life.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, some dopey elves got a little too far into the holiday cheer:

Kate Gorman, 35, was waiting to see "Enchanted" with her two young children.

"At least 50 drunk idiots dressed up like Santa came in through the main door," she said. "They were kicking things over, ripping down posters and smashing everything in sight."

"They were all dressed as Santa and shouting 'ho f*****g ho'," she told the paper.

Her children, Gabriella, 6, and Jackson, 7, had been confused by the incident, she said.

"They asked me, 'are they Santa's helpers gone crazy?' and I said 'no, they are just idiots'."

It's things like this that make you go Bah humbug.

December 24, 2007

Jim Hightower's Gifts for a Happier New Year

May your days be merry and bright, and may you keep stickin' it to the right!

December 12, 2007

Bless you, Don MacRae...

Though I don't know who you are, sir, you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. I loved this letter you wrote to the editors of TheMorningCall.com:

According to a Dec. 4 editorial, Hugo Chavez is taking advantage of the ''disparity between Venezuela's 'Haves' and 'Have-nots' that really threatens democracy there.'' If Venezuela was at our southern borders rather than Mexico, Americans would be celebrating his efforts to educate, provide health care and create jobs for the 'Have-nots.' But that's not happening in Mexico, so there is illegal immigration.

The recent referendum was criticized as Chavez's attempt to be ''president for life.'' But there is no guarantee that Chavez would be re-elected if presidential term limits were lifted. When will the U.S. Constitution be amended to limit the number of terms that senators and representatives may serve? Or is there some virtue in having elected officials continue in office?

After Franklin Roosevelt was elected for four terms to serve from 1933 to 1949 (he died in office in 1945), the U.S. constitution was amended. The 22nd Amendment limits the president to two terms in office.

Saying that Chavez intends to replace democracy with socialism is misleading. Socialism is part of our democratic system. Fire and police departments, educational facilities, roads, water and sewage works, recreational areas, parks and rivers are just some of our socialist institutions.

Good, solid points all. I would add that socialism is to economics what democracy is to politics--a process of more equitable distribution of powers. In fact, you can't have real socialism without democracy in some form, because a process of more equitable distribution can't work if it's run from the top down. It needs grassroots participation, and it needs to give the people a say; it's a no-brainer. What political system provides that better than democracy? (BTW, Canada's socialist system also provides healthcare, old-age pensions, and unemployment benefits.)

Bless you, sir, and keep setting them straight.

Time to give Spain some credit

Okay, their king is an arrogant pissant. But the country as a whole is not the King, and the parliament has just done something long overdue and very decent:

The Spanish parliament has passed a law of "historical memory" which condemns Franco-fascism and rehabilitates the memory of the victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship.

The law, which will come into effect in a few days after its publication in the official gazette, was approved on Monday night by the Senate, which rejected the veto petition of the Popular Party (PP) and the Leftist Republic of Catalonia (ERC).

The PP considers the law to be a "divisive element", while the ERC considers it to be insufficient.

The law will not provide for annulment of the trials of the Francoist tribunals, as requested by the ERC. But the United Left (IU), whose votes made possible the passing of the bill, interpreted it as in effect allowing the reopening of the cases, without impunity.

Continue reading "Time to give Spain some credit" »

December 9, 2007

Christian, yes. Charity, no.

Outcome, inevitable. Sorry to say it, but it's true:

A gunman opened fire in a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday after being told he couldn't spend the night, killing two of the center's staff members and wounding two others. No arrests had been made by afternoon.

The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in this Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

The gunman came to the door of the dormitory seeking shelter, asking if he could spend the night, said Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver.

When told he couldn't stay, the man walked inside, opened fire, then left on foot, Warren said.

Continue reading "Christian, yes. Charity, no." »

December 7, 2007

Uppity women in India!

A pink posse in a poor part of the country! Why not? Especially when the need for street-fighters for social justice is so pressing...

They wear pink saris and go after corrupt officials and boorish men with sticks and axes.

The several hundred vigilante women of India's northern Uttar Pradesh state's Banda area proudly call themselves the "gulabi gang" (pink gang), striking fear in the hearts of wrongdoers and earning the grudging respect of officials.

The pink women of Banda shun political parties and NGOs because, in the words of their feisty leader, Sampat Pal Devi, "they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us".

Two years after they gave themselves a name and an attire, the women in pink have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor.

They have also stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.

"Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers," says Sampat Pal Devi, between teaching a "gang" member on how to use a lathi (traditional Indian stick) in self defence.

Continue reading "Uppity women in India!" »

December 2, 2007

So much for sensationalism

Generally, it's a good idea not to gawk when you pass a car wreck. Especially if you're the kind of person who is easily upset by blood and fire and twisted metal, because you'll only stagger off and barf in the bushes. And even if, like me, you're not that easily upset, you will still feel as though you've just looked into Nietzsche's abyss, and had it look back into you.

Then again, sometimes you stick your head out the car window, just to get a breath of fresh air amid all the damn traffic. You don't rubberneck, but you still see what happened. You can't not see. And then you see something else, something you'd have missed if you had averted your eyes. Something that's downright bracing, and does wonders for that queasy feeling. And it doesn't come a moment too soon. Especially when you consider the fact that Chavecito's ex is the one who wrecked her own car with a big flouncy defection in the first place.

Continue reading "So much for sensationalism" »

November 30, 2007

Alvaro's big oopsie

Looks like the president of Marching Powder Land has some serious splainin' to do. Like, for example, how his effort to sabotage Chavecito and Piedad Cordoba in their efforts to broker peace and a release of FARC hostages...ended up showing that they had succeeded anyhow:

Colombia announced today that authorities arrested three people presumed to belong to urban militias of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Bogotá late Thursday, who were found in possession of five videos and seven letters and a digital memory card with photographs demonstrating proof of life of five civilian and eleven military hostages held by the FARC, including French Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt and three US defense contractors. The videos and other documents showing proof of life were addressed to Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The son of Ingrid Betancourt, Lorenzo Betancourt, said the proof that his mother is alive is thanks to the mediation of President Chavez. However, he expressed concern over her health and asked that Chavez's mediation be renewed to secure her release as soon as possible.

The proof of life of the hostages appears only a week after Colombian president Alvaro Uribe unilaterally terminated the mediating role of Chavez and Cordoba, who were working to secure the release of the hostages and had assured that "proof of life would arrive any minute."

In an interview with Telesur, Codroba, who is now under investigation by the Supreme Court for "crimes of treason against the homeland and collusion," defended her role and said that the proof of life of the hostages demonstrates that the mediation of herself and the Venezuelan president was being undertaken with complete seriousness and responsibility.

Oops.

I think someone owes two other somebodies an apology.

November 26, 2007

Fine allies Dubya has, part umpteen

Oh, Saudi Arabia. The problem with that country isn't the general insanity of its theocracy--it's where to start. A few posts ago, I blogged about a rape victim getting punished for being a victim. Now, it gets even worse--the authorities have decided to heap defamation on top of abuse and humiliation, no doubt in an effort to make themselves look better.

Saudi justice officials say a woman who was sentenced to prison and flogging after she was gang-raped has now confessed to an extramarital affair.

The case of the unidentified woman, 19, drew international criticism after an appeal increased her 90-lash sentence to 200 lashes and six months' jail.

The justice ministry statement rejected "foreign interference" in the case.

It insisted the ruling was legal and that the woman had "confessed to doing what God has forbidden".

Continue reading "Fine allies Dubya has, part umpteen" »

November 23, 2007

Quotable: Naomi Wolf on America's weakening democracy

Not convinced yet that creeping fascism is...well, on the creep? Listen to Naomi and think again.

November 22, 2007

Quotable: Lewis Black on the capitalization of Christmas

"Christmas begins now in August. Christmas has become the Beast that just cannot be fed!"

--Lewis Black

November 21, 2007

Even Jesus can't escape the sweatshop

What--you thought rosaries and crucifixes were magically exempt from Chinese slave labor?

A labor rights group alleged Tuesday that crucifixes sold in religious gift shops in the U.S. are produced under "horrific" conditions in a Chinese factory with more than 15-hour workdays and inadequate food.

"It's a throwback to the worst of the garment sweatshops 10, 20 years ago," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee.

Kernaghan held a news conference in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to call attention to conditions at a factory in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city near Hong Kong, where he said crosses sold at the historic church and elsewhere are made.

Continue reading "Even Jesus can't escape the sweatshop" »

November 19, 2007

The Warning

Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) has created a powerful video that rings all the right alarm bells. Crank your speakers.

November 11, 2007

Noam Chomsky can't give soundbite for shit

Or so they say everytime they refuse to give him airtime.

"They", of course, being the lamestream media. Even PBS and NPR (supposedly the long-haired intellectuals of the US broadcasterati) are constantly begging off because, supposedly, Chomsky hasn't got "concision" (translation: soundbite-ability).

There's only one problem with that excuse: It's bullshit.

As you can see (in little more than three minutes!), Chomsky can so give good soundbite. The only problem with his soundbites is that they say things the lamestream media types don't want us to hear. They're not for the faint of heart (or feeble of mind.) If you're hard of thinking, they will force you to think hard.

Go on. Read Chomsky. Hear him talk. Get addicted. What have you got to lose but your phony comfort zone?

November 3, 2007

Requiem for the last American soldier to die in Iraq

Mike Malloy reads an article speculating on who will be the last US citizen to die for Dubya's asinine blunders.

October 31, 2007

Oh those uppity Chilean women!

They dare to defy the Catholic church? And to order pharmacies to fill orders for the Morning-After Pill? What next, a female president?

Oh wait. They have one already. Never mind...

The Chilean government has warned pharmacies refusing to sell the morning-after contraceptive pill that they could face stiff fines or closure.

Major pharmacy chains have not been selling the pill recently, arguing they could not buy stocks locally.

The government responded by importing supplies and said the stores now had no excuse for not selling the pill.

Continue reading "Oh those uppity Chilean women!" »

October 29, 2007

Okay, I need a cute nickname for Rafael Correa.

Because this guy just majorly endeared himself to me with the following novel approach to an urghly problem:

Continue reading "Okay, I need a cute nickname for Rafael Correa." »

October 26, 2007

You may have noticed...

...the little "Buzz It" button at the bottom of each post now. This button will take you to Buzzflash.com to tell them about my site.

Here's how to use it:

1. Control-click the "Permalink" in orange, which you'll see right between the time stamp and comments link at the bottom of each entry.

2. Select "copy URL" (or whatever your menu says).

3. Click on the "Buzz It" button and paste the permalink URL in the box they provide.

4. VERY IMPORTANT: Do NOT use the sabinabecker.com URL, even though it does appear by default on their site; that's the main directory for this blog, and will only link to the front page. My front page varies from day to day and may confuse readers who came looking for only one story. Erase that link, and paste in the permalink instead. Always use the permalink to buzz a specific entry!

If you're not already a Buzzflash member, sign up first at their site; it's free. (Use your real address, or you won't be able to verify your account!) Once you're a BuzzFlasher with a verified account, come back here; grab the permalink from the post you want to buzz, then go to the Buzz It page and paste the permalink from my site into the URL box they provide.

Please follow their instructions to the letter and make sure you're not duplicating any of the other "buzzed" stories! It will save me a heartache and you a headache.

Now, let's get this site buzzing and fight ignorance together.

October 23, 2007

Quotable: Studs Terkel on hope in a hopeless world

"I once wrote a book called Hope Dies Last. I believe that. I might feel hopelessness, except for one thing: the young. I don't mean the young as they're portrayed in TV commercials: whores, bimbos and dummies. There are many who do not fall into those categories. The big problem is that there's no memory of the past. Our hero is the free market. People forget how the free market fell on its face way back in the Depression. And how the nation pleaded with its government and got help. Today, all these fat CEOs say we don't need government. And these fat boys get away with it, because of our collective Alzheimer's, and the power of Rupert Murdoch and CNN. There is despair in this country, sure. At the same time, we are waiting."

--Studs Terkel, interviewed in the UK Independent

October 22, 2007

It's National Character Counts Week!

Yes, it is!

Do you know what your wealthy right-wing media robber barons are doing this week? Well, one of them is getting divorced from Trophy Wife #2. It is delectably messy, and there's too much juicy stuff to excerpt here, so I'll just give you the linky to clicky. And remember, character counts!

Meanwhile, speaking of character, you may also want to check out what Jonathan Schwartz of Tom Tomorrow has found on the company King George the Dubya keeps. Not for nothing is Hosni Mubarak's crypto-dictatorship in Egypt credited (or blamed) for the rise of the terrorist wing of Islamism. When a country's leadership has no problem ordering the drugging, sodomy and execution of 13-year-olds, a backlash is just bound to arise. Character counts!

You might also enjoy Joan Walsh's laundry list, on Salon.com, of GOP flip-floppers. Once again, character counts!

Also on Salon: Gary Kamiya's devastating dissection of the real character of Dubya, by way of examining what he's done in the name of "moral clarity"--surely THAT has something to do with character, does it not? Remember, by their fruits shall ye know them--and character counts!

Finally, you know all you need to about the character of these people when they gang up to attack 12-year-olds. Character really counts there.

Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

John Pilger's documentary, broadcast on British channel ITV in 2000, explores just how old the "Saddam had WMDs" fallacy was, and how destructive. And also how hypocritical was all the tut-tutting on the part of the US and Great Britain. Both countries were responsible for the ascension of Saddam as well as for the WMD stockpiles he did possess--the same ones which were destroyed later on under the UN's eyes.

Judging by the sudden jumps in cancer rates and birth defects, related by the doctors you see here, it's a no-brainer that Iraq was nuked with the ultimate dirty bomb--the "depleted" uranium shell. Yet another layer of Anglo-American hypocrisy reveals itself. Just who were these people to try to starve out Iraq in the name of eliminating a dictator they created and armed? And what right had they to use WMD on Iraq--in the name of eliminating Saddam and his WMD, which they themselves supplied?

Bear in mind that this is the country PNAC urged Bill Clinton to bomb in 1998, feeling that what was going on, though devastating to ordinary Iraqis, was just not devastating enough. Clinton declined to bomb--but over half a million sanctions-related child deaths were, apparently, quite acceptable to Madeleine Albright's State Department. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein and his cronies were demonstrably NOT affected in the slightest by the sanctions. Gee, maybe PNAC was right about bombing and full-scale war (i.e. more death, more destruction, and even less humanitarian aid getting through) being needed to dislodge him.

Oh wait, there was bombing, too. It was still not enough to appease PNAC. Maybe because the targets were a few shepherds, their children...and sheep.

And don't forget, this all happened BEFORE Gulf War II and the current occupation.

October 20, 2007

An election issue, you say?

Incredible!

It may be more than a year away, but Americans already think they know what the big issues of the 2008 presidential election will be.

On the thousands of web pages, acres of newsprint and hours of airtime already devoted to the long race to the White House, two subjects get most attention: how and when to end the war in Iraq and how healthcare should be paid for.

But another issue is gaining prominence, one which is of much greater significance to the rest of the world.

Indeed, it is one that could have profound implications for the global economy.

The issue is free trade.

President Bush devoted his most recent weekly radio address to lauding the benefit America gets from free trade deals.

"Millions of American jobs depend on exports," he said.

"More exports support better and higher-paying jobs - and to keep our economy expanding, we need to keep expanding trade."

Continue reading "An election issue, you say?" »

What part of "No Anorexia" don't they understand?

All of it, apparently.

Italy's advertising watchdog has banned an ad campaign for a fashion label showing a naked anorexic woman, saying it breached its code of conduct.

The image "commercially exploited" the illness, the advertising body said.

The image, bearing the words "No Anorexia", was first displayed during Milan Fashion Week in September.

Continue reading "What part of "No Anorexia" don't they understand?" »

September 30, 2007

The Shock Doctrine

Actually, this dovetails rather nicely with The Secret Government, don't you think?

September 28, 2007

Hello, operator? I think I've been framed.

Could you please put me through to Dr. George Lakoff? I have a really bad case of brainwashing I'm trying to overcome.

New research confirms that repetition of "myths" and slogans helps lodge them in the minds of the public and that refuting them often leads only to the public remembering falsehoods better. Instead, they tell us that "education campaigns with an 'affirmative' message," even if it is a negative message, are far more effective in defeating an adversary's frame.

University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz has done experiments showing that people remember things they hear repeated often enough, regardless of its source, and even if it's from a single source.

"Hearing the same opinion from several sources is more influential than hearing it only once from one source. This is as it should be," he wrote in an email exchange with HarperIndex.ca. "But, as we showed in a recent paper, hearing it multiple times from the same source is nearly as influential. 'A repetitive voice sounds like a chorus.' So a single person or small group can create the impression of broad consensus through sheer repetition."

Continue reading "Hello, operator? I think I've been framed." »

August 27, 2007

Stupid Sex Tricks: More AIDS ignorance in New Guinea

This is what happens when you don't educate the public enough about AIDS.

Some AIDS victims are being buried alive in Papua New Guinea by relatives who cannot look after them and fear becoming infected themselves, a health worker said Monday.

Margaret Marabe, who spent five months carrying out an AIDS awareness campaign in the remote Southern Highlands of the South Pacific nation, said she had seen five people buried while still breathing.

One was calling out "Mama, Mama" as the soil was shoveled over his head, said Marabe, who works for a volunteer organisation called Igat Hope, Pidgin English for I've Got Hope.

Continue reading "Stupid Sex Tricks: More AIDS ignorance in New Guinea" »

9-11 Press For Truth

With Spanish subtitles.

Try to keep your eyes dry.

August 13, 2007

Eat this and weep

Chow down!

Organic foods protect children from the toxins in pesticides, while foods grown using modern, intensive agricultural techniques contain fewer nutrients and minerals than they did 60 years ago, according to two new scientific studies.

A US research team from Emory University in Atlanta analysed urine samples from children ages three to 11 who ate only organic foods and found that they contained virtually no metabolites of two common pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos.

However, once the children returned to eating conventionally grown foods, concentrations of these pesticide metabolites quickly climbed as high as 263 parts per billion, says the study published February 21.

Continue reading "Eat this and weep" »

August 6, 2007

How to enable a tyrant

How else but with a "free" trade agreement?

Congress will give priority treatment to approval of a trade pact with Peru when it reconvenes in September, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee said Monday.

"It is a priority when we return to the Congress in September," Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, told reporters after meeting with President Alan Garcia.

Continue reading "How to enable a tyrant" »

July 29, 2007

Stupid Sex Tricks: Blame the gays (again!)

I think this is satirical, but it's strangely depressing anyway.

The Peruvian tyrant apologizes

Although, if you ask me, I'd say his tears are of a distinctly crocodilian variety...

Peru's President Alan Garcia has said his government has not done enough to improve the lives of the poor.

In a speech marking his first year in office, Mr Garcia - who has seen a sharp decline in his popularity - urged Peruvians to show patience.

He promised that increased investment would cut poverty before the end of his term in 2011.

Peru's economy is booming, but correspondents say the poor are yet to feel the benefits of its growth.

Continue reading "The Peruvian tyrant apologizes" »

July 26, 2007

Bullshit is Bullshit

Ahem. To the tune of Depeche Mode's "People Are People":

Continue reading "Bullshit is Bullshit" »

July 25, 2007

Bolivar Bolivariano...

An homage to the Liberator, on the 224th anniversary of his birth. The ballad is by Ali Primera.

July 23, 2007

Palestine is Still the Issue

John Pilger's documentary of several years ago is still relevant today:

Warning: extremely explicit and gruesome. Does not show the Israeli military in a good light, but in an honest one.

What really grabbed me here was how much the illegal Israeli settlement (in Palestinian territory!) looked like a concentration camp in reverse--there is an electric barbed wire fence around the perimeter, but the prisoners are outside, while the "guards" live in relative luxury within it. Why anyone would want to live in such a sterile jail is beyond me. But then again, the settlers seem locked in a prison mind-set of their own. It is exactly like South African apartheid (which, as Pilger notes in another documentary, is still far from dead).

What gives me hope about all this? The fact that some Israelis, even those who've lost relatives to Palestinian suicide bombers, are thinking this through--and coming to the hard truth that it takes an awful lot of despair to become a suicide bomber. And that those thinkers are growing in number. They are drawing the once-unacceptable conclusion that repression does not work--and in fact, will only spur more and more violent uprisings.

Truth first, and justice--and only then reconciliation will be possible.

July 21, 2007

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

A half-hour video exploring the use of napalm (which nobody calls it anymore, but which in fact it is) at Fallujah.

July 20, 2007

Fine young chickenhawks

Max Blumenthal infiltrates the College Republicans...

...none of whom will go fight "Them" over there so you won't have to fight "Them" here.

Aside from a surprising number of individuals with health problems (of an invisible nature, no doubt, since they all look fine to me--except for the several chubbies who would slim down fast in the event of a real war), there's the fact that there's a culture war going on here, and SOMEBODY's gotta fight it.

The fact that all this is at odds with BushCo's "fight Them over there so we won't have to fight Them over here" doctrine of pre-emptive war, somehow magically never occurs to these brain-trusters.

But hey, they're, like, very, like, patriotic, and, like, you know.

Oh, and they're definitely NOT gay. Isn't that just so, like, comforting?

July 18, 2007

Harpo's asinine strawman argument

You can't make this shit up.

Some South American countries are at a crossroads because they falsely believe their only choice is between socialism or the American style of capitalism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Canada-Chile Chamber of Commerce in Santiago, Chile, Harper said Canada will play a bigger role in Latin America and the Caribbean, but one that is different from what the United States plays.

"Too often some in the hemisphere are led to believe that their only choices are — if I can be so bold to say — to return to the syndrome of economic nationalism, political authoritarianism and class warfare, or to become, quote, just like the United States," Harper said, in what appeared to be a reference to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "This is, of course, utter nonsense."

Continue reading "Harpo's asinine strawman argument" »

July 17, 2007

I am cringing as I type this

And why not? This is the most embarrassing show of prime-ministerial hubris I've seen in a while.

Stephen Harper became the first Canadian prime minister to visit Colombia this week, and dismissed criticism that Canada is putting trade ahead of human rights.

Colombia continues to struggle with Marxist guerrillas and a flourishing drug trade.

"When we see a country like Columbia that has decided it has to address its social, political and economic problems, it wants to embrace economic freedom, it wants to embrace political democracy and human rights and social development, then we say we we're in," Harper told reporters Monday in Bogota.

The prime minister went on to announce that Canada has started free-trade negotiations with Colombia, considered the most violent country in the western hemisphere, and Peru.

Continue reading "I am cringing as I type this" »

July 16, 2007

Henry Rollins never relents

And in spite of the mechanical gestures and weird camera angles, he's still talking my language.

I think I'm in love.

July 14, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's urban legend

New York firefighters (and bereaved relatives of dead firefighters) shatter the myth of the then mayor's "heroism" on 9-11:

The terrible truth is, Giuliani did not even meet the minimum standards of acceptable conduct. The non-functioning radios that cost over 300 brave souls from the FDNY their lives are just the tip of the iceberg. The disposal of their bodies in the Fresh Kills "landfill" (that's a garbage dump in plain English!) and the strange business with the Scotiabank gold (worth more than firefighters, dead or alive?) is certainly damning.

Any Repug who thinks he can run on his 9-11 record can now think again. The party that made 9-11 the disaster it was, from start to finish, should frankly be buried in Fresh Kills along with all those firefighters.

July 9, 2007

Americans' real duty to the people of Iraq

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, a Jewish/Iraqi American, lays it out clear as can be:

"Our soldiers don't sacrifice for duty, honor, country--they sacrifice for Kellogg, Brown & Root."

July 8, 2007

Quotable: Albert Einstein on capitalist tyranny

"Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital, the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights."

--Albert Einstein, "Why Socialism?", Monthly Review, 1949

July 5, 2007

Greg and Bobby's excellent presentation

Greg Palast (of the BBC) and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (of Air America radio) dissect the ills of America today, in a meeting in New York on May 1 of this year:

Greg unravels how the Republican Party destroyed democracy in the United States, while Bobby explains the need for reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, rips corporatism, and diagnoses the diseases of the major media (which are also infecting Canada, albeit on a somewhat lower level--but still alarming.)

Worth quoting from Bobby: "80% of Republicans are just Democrats who don't know what's going on!"

Well worth an hour of your time...after all, what's on TV? Glorified game shows? Paris Hilton's latest stupidities? That diaper-wearing NASA astronaut/stalker getting her panties in a bunch?

July 4, 2007

So nice to know so little has changed!

Oh Brazil. I thought this sort of thing was supposed to have ended...in 1888!

More than 1,000 labourers have been freed in Brazil by the government's anti-slavery team.

They were said to be working in inhumane conditions on a sugar cane plantation in the Amazon.

An ethanol-producing company which owns the plantation has denied allegations of abusing the workers.

Continue reading "So nice to know so little has changed!" »

July 1, 2007

Quotable: Paul Waldman on progressives

"Progressives do not lack for policy experts or committed activists. What they need is an infrastructure whose purpose is not fighting conservatives on this or that issue but battling conservatism itself."

--Paul Waldman, "Being Right is Not Enough"

June 30, 2007

You want a tyrant? You got one...

...in Peru.

The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency on Thursday for 15 days in the province of Coronel Portillo, Ucayali department, because of violent confrontations between strikers and police. The decree suspends constitutional guarantees of liberty and personal security, the inviolability of the home, and the freedom to meet and travel.

From Aporrea; translation mine.

Incredible. And yet, not a word about it in the US media. They're too busy trying to tar Hugo Chavez with the dictator label and make it stick. Meanwhile, Alan Garcia is acting the part much more closely, and do you think anyone says boo about him? No. Why? No oil. Or at least, not enough of it...and no resistance to international vampire corporations on the part of Garcia. In fact, he's more than happy to repress strikers and suspend constitutional liberties in an entire region.

Lovely!

June 27, 2007

Happy Journalists' Day!

From Venezuela, where free speech is supposedly at an all-time low...

But as the saying goes:

"Freedom of Expression" does not mean:

Freedom to lie

Freedom to deceive

Freedom to manipulate

Freedom of Expression is:

Freedom to inform

Freedom to teach

Freedom to debate

Happy Journalists' Day!

May 25, 2007

Keith Olbermann hits it out of the park

This is what it sounds like when the system breaks down utterly and altogether. One voice cries in the wilderness while those who are in a position to do something...do nothing. No, worse than nothing: they do the exact WRONG thing.

Good night, and good luck. You're gonna need it.

May 18, 2007

Appy polly loggies

Sorry, folks, no Festive Left Friday Blogging today. I had nothing prepared, and worse, I had my first moment of pre-senile dementia. I forgot what day it was in my state of general discombobulation. Must be all that negative Falwellian karma reverting on itself that's got the Earth's magnetic field flipflopping, or something.

May 13, 2007

You Can't Make It Here Anymore

This video was posted on UNN by Buddy Georgia (who also goes by the alias "drummerboy"), a military vet and peace activist. He's in here somewhere, according to his post:

This is a link to a music video on youtube. While it isn't a particularly flattering photo of me, it was a shock to see my mug in the video. [...] Plus it's a pretty cool tune. P&L, Buddy

That it is...cool, very Buffalo Springfield, and all too true.

Good to see you in there, Buddy!

Welcome to capitalism! Sorry you got beat up!

From the UK Guardian, a little news item from not-so-red-anymore China:

China unveiled plans yesterday to deploy police in hospital wards and outpatient clinics to protect medical staff from the public, amid growing instances of physical violence meted out by patients furious at charges and dubious treatment.

The government is concerned about increased attacks on doctors, nurses and administrative staff as the healthcare system becomes the focus of resentment about the gap between rich and poor.

According to the China Daily, 5,500 medical workers were injured last year in assaults and protests, causing more than 200m yuan (£13m) damage.

Continue reading "Welcome to capitalism! Sorry you got beat up!" »

May 10, 2007

Breaking Ranks: US soldiers resisting war in Canada

My home and native land has a long, proud history as a place of refuge for the persecuted, the downtrodden, and the people of conscience. When black Americans fled slavery on the Underground Railroad, Canada was the end station. They followed the North Star to get here, literally. A hundred or so years later, the Vietnam War drove tens of thousands of men to flee the United States yet again--this time from the non-racial slavery that was the military draft. Many of these war resisters became permanent citizens.

Today, our country's reputation as a refuge is under attack. While the people of Canada are as open and welcoming to war resisters as ever, our government is not. There is craven cowardice in Ottawa as politicians seek to tie their fortunes to Dubya's foul star. Why they are doing so, heaven knows; I suspect greed and corporate graft. This is a corporate war, not a war of liberation or against terror, that is being fought over Iraq. Yet too many of our members of Parliament are too cowardly, too deluded, or just too stupid to speak out. They underestimate the true nature of the Canadian people, who are staunchly opposed to this war--and who welcome the soldiers who have said no to it as well.

May 6, 2007

The Future of Food

A scary but utterly important film on the dangers of genetically modified foods and what we can do to stop their deadly encroachment on our tables, our fields and our lives. More information can be found at the filmmaker's website.

April 25, 2007

Milton Nascimento: Song of America

The students of Virginia Tech have resumed classes. It seems to be the only thinkable thing to do after last week; there are educations to complete and lives to get on with. The mourning, however, doesn't end with the memorial ceremonies which are being sadly conducted in public and private, one by one.

Since I can think of no better way to honor the lives lost, I'll post this sweet, sad song by Brazil's inimitable Milton Nascimento:

Continue reading "Milton Nascimento: Song of America" »

April 24, 2007

What do mass killers have in common with Rush Limbaugh?

Funny you should ask:

I've already blogged on this correlation, but this video puts it more graphically.

April 22, 2007

The PEACE on Terra

In honor of Earth Day, a singer by the name of Terra Naomi crafts a video with help from people who sent in images of themselves "answering the question 'what would you do/want if anything were possible?' in three words or less."

Happy Earth Day to you!

April 20, 2007

Festive Left Friday Blogging: Give us a hug-ito!

Give us a hugito, Chavecito!

I love shots like this, because with Chavecito, it's never just a photo-op. He embraces the cause as well as the people--in this case, two of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who have steadfastly campaigned for years to get justice for "disappeared" persons in Argentina.

The mothers are paying back the love, too, by calling for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles--the CubanaBomber terrorist with Venezuelan citizenship who's currently being illegally harbored in Miami. They are being joined in protest by American citizens of conscience.

April 19, 2007

And now, a few words about school shootings

As the Boomtown Rats once sang, the lesson today is how to die.

Call it Death by Second Amendment. Or Death by Insanity. Either way, it works out to about the same thing. Isn't the practical definition of insanity a dogged habit of making the same mistakes repeatedly, yet still expecting a different result each time? When you follow a pattern, the outcome tends to be true to pattern. So if you follow a pattern of insanity, guess what your outcome is.

I hauled out my DVD of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine today, dusted it off and gave it a spin. This was not just some morbid fascination. I wanted to see what, if anything, can be gleaned from it now, five years after its original release and eight years almost to the day after Columbine, to apply to this latest bloodbath. I'm also poring over my old copy of Elliott Leyton's Hunting Humans: The Rise of the Modern Multiple Murderer, originally published in the 1980s, to see what there is in there that might shed a light.

As luck would have it, there's plenty. Because not much has changed in those years, except for the worse. The Virginia Tech shooter fits right into the same dreary pattern that has characterized school shooters for decades. In fact, he IS the pattern. On steroids.

Bearing that in mind, let's now recall Bowling for Columbine.

Continue reading "And now, a few words about school shootings" »

April 12, 2007

Whoever wrote this deserves a medal

I don't believe she'll get one, though. Which is a damned shame. Truth-telling has become so rare these days that it deserves something other than some asshole on Craig's List flagging it so it gets pulled.

I'm having the worst damn week of my whole damn life so I'm going to write this while I'm pissed off enough to do it right.

I am SICK of all this bullshit people are writing about the Iraq war. I am abso-fucking-lutely sick to death of it. What the fuck do most of you know about it? You watch it on TV and read the commentaries in the newspaper or Newsweek or whatever god damn yuppie news rag you subscribe to and think you're all such fucking experts that you can scream at each other like five year old about whether you're right or not. Let me tell you something: unless you've been there, you don't know a god damn thing about it. It you haven't been shot at in that fucking hell hole, SHUT THE FUCK UP!

How do I dare say this to you moronic war supporters who are "Supporting our Troops" and waving the flag and all that happy horse shit? I'll tell you why. I'm a Marine and I served my tour in Iraq. My husband, also a Marine, served several. I left the service six months ago because I got pregnant while he was home on leave and three days ago I get a visit from two men in uniform who hand me a letter and tell me my husband died in that fucking festering sand-pit. He should have been home a month ago but they extended his tour and now he's coming home in a box.

You fuckers and that god-damn lying sack of shit they call a president are the reason my husband will never see his baby and my kid will never meet his dad.

Continue reading "Whoever wrote this deserves a medal" »

April 10, 2007

A most disturbing video

From a link sent to me by my friend Corey.

Who made this video I don't know, but apparently they are Iraqi. The speaker is very eloquent, and a lot of the statements he makes ring true. He decries the false, meaningless "democracy" of the neo-cons, saying it would be better to live in an outright dictatorship. Food for thought? Yes, and some will say it's hard to digest. Others will probably dismiss it as al-Q propaganda, giving aid and comfort to The Enemy, etc. Make of it what you will, but watch it anyway. It gives no aid or comfort to anyone, only validation to what we in the peace movement have long believed: that Gulf War II is not and never has been about freedom, democracy, stopping terrorism or WMDs.

April 3, 2007

Brazilian women say "Nao" to Bush's ethanol scheme

Are you listening, Lula?

(Video originally seen on Aporrea, courtesy of TVColetiva Brazil. Portuguese only, but it's easy to tell what's going on.)

There were about 900 women at this demo, according to Aporrea. This was a serious one. But entirely peaceful, in spite of guards trying to confiscate their banners.

April 1, 2007

Quotable: Barbara Bush on apathy and ignorance

The Ugly Mind of Barbara Bush

March 31, 2007

How to kick John Bolton's ass

A young anti-war Iraqi woman, Tony Benn and assorted others show how it's done.

Good show!

March 22, 2007

One of our submarines

...is missing

tonight

seems she ran aground on manoeuvres...

Continue reading "One of our submarines" »

March 20, 2007

The Fantasy of Freedom: A Venezuelan documentary

The US peace movement through the eyes of a Venezuelan film crew. Features a short interview at the end with filmmaker Liliane Blaser.

March 17, 2007

Police brutality in Tacoma

This is what a police state looks like. A peace demonstration was tear-gassed with ZERO provocation:

Police claim that barricades (sawhorses) were thrown at them, but this video clearly disproves that. There are no barricades in sight, let alone between the demonstrators and the line of battle-hungry cops. Right before the gas was fired, protesters had simply SAT DOWN, SINGING. It's kind of hard to throw a sawhorse from a seated position without losing the tune of "Give Peace a Chance"!

Continue reading "Police brutality in Tacoma" »

March 13, 2007

Abu Ga-Reed

Walter Reed, shades of Abu Ghraib

Ain't privatization grand?

March 8, 2007

Poison DUst: another must-see

If you think what it does to US soldiers is appalling, wait till you see what "depleted" uranium is doing to the people of Iraq. And its half-life is 4.5 BILLION years. "Harmless"? Yeah--just like Agent Orange.

March 5, 2007

Coultergeist's scrawny ass gets owned...

...by a man she called a faggot. Her puss may be sour, but revenge sure is sweet:

A video is worth a thousand words. And dollars, too. Prominently featured on John Edwards' presidential campaign Web site is a video of conservative commentator Ann Coulter insulting him. And with just a mouse click you can hear the invective and get a chance to donate at the same time.

On Friday, Coulter, a writer and columnist known for provocative remarks, told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington: "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."

The Edwards camp is now seeking to capitalize on the slur by soliciting $100,000 in "Coulter Cash" to "show that inflaming prejudice to attack progressive leaders will only backfire."

Continue reading "Coultergeist's scrawny ass gets owned..." »

February 26, 2007

War won't liberate the women of Iraq

From Yanar Mohammed, a glimpse of how badly gender relations in Iraq have deteriorated since the war began:

Iraqi society was shocked with an unprecedented issue of a woman stepping forward, voluntarily, and explaining that she was sexually assaulted by Iraqi security forces. Instead of pursuing an investigation into this assault allegation, or empowering the victim with moral support, opposing Islamist-sectarian factions competed to exploit the matter politically, preparing the ground for bloody sectarian conflict. They symbolized Sabrine's rape as an assault against the whole "Sunni religious group."

Meanwhile, the heads of Shia Islamist political parties — who are the top officials in the American-approved government — immediately scorned and disbelieved the victim, instead rewarding the accused rapists. Moreover, Iraqi government heads indulged in raising moral suspicions about the victim's reputation.

This entire matter has revealed a misogynist tendency in Iraq as most spokesmen started to scorn and discredit the victim, wishing that no woman should ever dare to speak out the details of her sexual humiliation. Worse yet, a few of these male-chauvinist reporters declared that they preferred that she end her life or live a lifetime of pain and misery without even thinking of punishment for her rapists.

Continue reading "War won't liberate the women of Iraq" »

February 25, 2007

New bird species discovered in Australia

It's the Australian Chickenhawk, and so far only three specimens, all male, have been discovered:

A new bird species: the Australian Chickenhawk

Continue reading "New bird species discovered in Australia" »

February 24, 2007

Dubya gets what he's got coming, again

Poor Dubya, he's been having such a rough week. First he gets spanked in Germany by Ms. Liberty, and now this:

Millions of people the world over will now realize a cherished dream: to give a big, fat kick in the ass to King George Bush. In New York, an English artist offers this cathartic service. See the brilliant photo.

British artist Mark McGowan went out this Thursday in the streets of New York dressed as US president George W. Bush, inviting people to kick him in the backside to "ease some of their frustrations".

Continue reading "Dubya gets what he's got coming, again" »

February 19, 2007

Say goodbye to another private-water failure

And this time, it's Guyana giving a multinational firm the boot.

Severn Trent is exiting Guyana after the government said it was failing to meet its targets for the supply of water to the South American country.

Severn International's contract was due to end at the start of 2008 but is being terminated nearly one year early.

[...]

Harry Nawbatt, Guyana's water minister, said this was due to the firm's failure to meet targets, such as increasing the amount of money raised from water bills.

Continue reading "Say goodbye to another private-water failure" »

February 13, 2007

"Terror-free oil"--what it really means

Well, hey howdy. There's a new face on the gasoline scene:

Terror Free Oil--the $3 bill of the energy sector

Oh my, aren't they patriotic. Just look at that logo! Not a bit subtle. What could be more "American" than cashing in wherever you can, even on tragedy?

Unfortunately, this is just another way of profiting from the gullibility of the "patriotic" sheeple--the same ones who stick made-in-China yellow ribbon magnets on their SUVs and call that "supporting the troops". It's a slick scam, and here's why:

Continue reading ""Terror-free oil"--what it really means" »

February 12, 2007

Neil Young sticks it to BushCo

All the reasons why Bush, Cheney and the entire vile bunch MUST be impeached.

February 11, 2007

Yep, free trade creates jobs, all right!

Unfortunately, a lot of them are child labor.

The Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio said that over 200 thousand children are working as miners in Colombia specially in deposits in Choco, Boyaca, Antioquia, Caldas, Cundinamarca and Nariño departments.

Palacio admitted that situation is growing more complicated every day because of the lack of control by the legal authorities that have been given the responsibility and obligation of checking, controlling and even closing those mines.

Continue reading "Yep, free trade creates jobs, all right!" »

February 10, 2007

Quotable: Eric Fair on torture and its consequences

"American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

[...]

"Some may suggest there is no reason to revive the story of abuse in Iraq. Rehashing such mistakes will only harm our country, they will say. But history suggests we should examine such missteps carefully. Oppressive prison environments have created some of the most determined opponents. The British learned that lesson from Napoleon, the French from Ho Chi Minh, Europe from Hitler. The world is learning that lesson again from Ayman al-Zawahiri. What will be the legacy of abusive prisons in Iraq?"

--Eric Fair, "An Iraq Interrogator's Nightmare"

February 3, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

And right along with it, all hope that Peruvian president Alan Garcia might have learned from mistakes of the past:

Environmental and human rights group in Peru have denounced the government's campaign to auction off large swathes of the Amazon to oil and gas companies.

They say the amount of Peruvian Amazon territory open to exploration has risen from 13% to 70% in two years.

They say this is putting at risk the biodiversity of the Amazon and the lives of indigenous people.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has said the plans are part of his investment programme to tackle widespread poverty.

Continue reading "There goes the neighborhood" »

January 31, 2007

Quotable: Molly Ivins' famous last (published) words

"We are the people who run this country.

We are the deciders. And every single day,

every single one of us needs to step outside

and take some action to help stop this war."

--Molly Ivins, sorely and sadly missed

A tale of two marches

Tell me, dear friend: have you heard about the March for Life? You know--the one that took place this year, as it does every year, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade? It is awfully hard to miss an annual display of in-your-face anti-choice propaganda when even the president of the United States has proclaimed this date to be National Sanctity of Life Day.

But I guess you probably haven't heard of it after all. Because to hear Donald Wildmon and his trusty sidekick tell it, the event wasn't even covered by the liberal-biased mainstream media!

Continue reading "A tale of two marches" »

January 28, 2007

Hey, hey, get outta my way...

...I just got here from the US of A!

And as you can see, punk-ass Humvee Macho Man is one helluva driver. When he gets sick of running them off the road from his own lane, he just veers into the oncoming one and starts all over.

With an attitude like that, it's easy to see how BushCo is winning the hearts and minds of the Middle East!

January 15, 2007

The threat of a good example

More must-see viewing: a 1983 documentary by British journalist John Pilger on Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. (You'll need RealPlayer installed to view it.)

Continue reading "The threat of a good example" »

January 14, 2007

Prisoners of Katrina: A must-see documentary

"Katrina blew the system apart, and made it so that we were so disconnected, we simply could not function."

Who are the bigger criminals--the inmates, or the authorities?

What is worse: the crimes that put people in jail, or a system that makes disproportionate sentencing commonplace?

This video will totally invert your preconceived notions about good and bad.

January 6, 2007

One more reason to condemn Saddam's hanging

Or three, as if we needed more. From El Nuevo Diario, of Managua, Nicaragua, we get this incredibly sad item:

A 10-year-old boy of Guatemalan origins killed himself accidentally while imitating the hanging of Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein after seeing images of the execution on television, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday.

The boy hanged himself on New Year's Eve, by jumping off a bunk bed, a short time after viewing the images, according to the newspaper.

Continue reading "One more reason to condemn Saddam's hanging" »

And here's why I call it the Chicken Noodle Network...

Quick, what's the biggest thing going on in Chile right now, according to CNN?

If you guessed that a distressed US sailor has been found safe and sound, you're only half right. That's the English version. In Spanish, THIS is the REAL news:

Continue reading "And here's why I call it the Chicken Noodle Network..." »

January 3, 2007

The ugly truth leaks out

Damn the Internets. First you get this, and then this:

The Iraqi government has launched an inquiry into unofficial mobile phone footage showing the execution of former leader Saddam Hussein.

The mobile phone footage showed he exchanged taunts and insults with witnesses at his hanging on Saturday.

Continue reading "The ugly truth leaks out" »

January 1, 2007

No more Taps for teens!

My friend Corey sent me this. While it is extremely gentle, with no violence or blue language, it's also a shocker sure to bring tears to your eyes.

Yes, you heard him correctly. He's offering to go to Iraq in place of a teenager.

Continue reading "No more Taps for teens!" »

December 29, 2006

This just in...

Saddam Hussein has been hanged.

And this is going to resolve...what?

Certainly not THIS:

December 21, 2006

Dubya, take note...

Absolute rulers who claim a higher authority are not immune to being "called home" suddenly. And if no one's there to take their place, and the contingency plan was scrapped by the ruler's megalomania, well...just read this as a cautionary tale.

Turkmenistan's authoritarian president Saparmurat Niyazov, who ruled the Central Asian country for 21 years, has died aged 66, state TV has reported.

Mr Niyazov, who named cities and airports after himself in a personality cult, left no designated successor.

Turkmenistan, which has large gas reserves, now faces an uncertain future with rival groups and outside powers scrambling for influence, analysts say.

Continue reading "Dubya, take note..." »

November 19, 2006

"Sir! No, Sir!" A must-see preview!

12 minutes of radical brilliance. Can't wait for THIS to come out on DVD.

November 8, 2006

"If I wasn't Muslim..."

Best takeoff on "If I were a rich man" (from Fiddler on the Roof) I've ever seen:

Trenchant social commentary on bigotry, xenophobia, ignorance and fear from a European Muslim viewpoint. This one's from Bosnia, where ethnic cleansing has long been a source of unrest.

Someone, please send this to Mark Steyn, that fearmongering fascist purveyor of the "Eurabia" meme. And tell Maclean's to dump the terror-baiting fraud, whose racist rants and inane excuses therefor (no excuses, bitch!) should have no place in Canada, let alone its leading news magazine.

October 27, 2006

Michael J. Fox on Limbaugh and stem cells

Like pretty well everyone who went to high school in the 1980s, I liked Michael J. Fox. Not in a screamy, crushy, posters-all-over-my-wall, die-for-him way (uh, that would have been the guys in Duran Duran), but in a he's-cute, he's-funny, I'm-proud-he's-Canadian way. This was a star who deserved his success. He packed a huge comic talent in a compact frame, with so much energy bristling off him that you could almost see it, the way people's hair stands out around their heads like a halo when they're full of static electricity. He's the little guy with a big personality, who often gets in over his head but, with sheer moxie, manages to haul his cute butt out of every scrape. There is simply no way you could overlook him, and that's what carried him on to success beyond the usual teen-idol crap. On Spin City, he was the manic glue that held City Hall together. As Marty McFly, he went Back to the Future not once, but three times--each movie eagerly anticipated almost before the previous one was out--thus proving to be a real-life time-traveller. On Family Ties, he humanized Alex P. Keaton--a character who was so arch-Republican that he would have been a complete and insufferable snotball, like Tucker Carlson, if anyone else had played him. No one else could play him! Fox's Alex could take a serious pratfall and actually learn from it. It was that rare ability to make and keep Alex real that kept me watching what would otherwise have been just another forgettable '80s sitcom.

Continue reading "Michael J. Fox on Limbaugh and stem cells" »

October 26, 2006

It's even more disgusting than I thought...

Crooks and Liars has a video of Keith Olbermann and Sam Seder discussing the Rush Limbaugh's nasty, crass, baseless attack on Michael J. Fox. Man, is it something. Olbermann and Seder are their usual awe-inspiring, bang-on selves. But the Pigman? He really takes the bagel. They have footage of him waving his arms and shaking his blubber all over the place as he mocks Fox's involuntary, medication-related movements.

It's gross, I warn you, but you had better see it so you know just how low the enemy will go.

October 1, 2006

Working on a logo...

I've been messing around a bit lately, using this handy-dandy "official seal" generator. Since this site lacks a logo, and I have very minimal artistic and photoshopping skills, I figured this was as good a way to go as any.

Here's my first attempt:

Working for Peace, Justice and Truth

Continue reading "Working on a logo..." »

September 27, 2006

Kudos to Clinton, bravo to Chavez...

...and as for Keith Olbermann, he's the latest on my yum-yum list, along with Chavecito, Evo, Big Dawg, Jon Stewart, George Clooney, and Stephen Colbert. That man is the next frickin' Edward R. Murrow, man.

Seriously.

What happened this past week? It seems that cojones are breaking out everywhere, and suddenly it's open season on BushCo. Is it something in the air? The water? Did the collective anesthesia wear off? What?

Whatever it is, I sense that a tipping point has been reached. Time for the gravitational acceleration to kick in!

September 11, 2006

The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference

9-11 Exploitation

Blah, blah blah...

That, Gentle Reader, is the sound of the mainstream media in the US, talking a lot and not actually saying anything. For the last five years, it's been doing nothing but that on one particular day when it owes the public so much more than just some obligatory annual orgy of grief and remembrance with an unholy admixture of misplaced patriotism.

Continue reading "The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference" »

September 6, 2006

My take on the Mike Malloy firing

Someone not brave enough to give their real name and e-mail address asked if I was going to comment on Mike Malloy's recent firing from Air America Radio.

Well, I've written a letter to Air America. Here it is:

Continue reading "My take on the Mike Malloy firing" »

August 29, 2006

One year after Katrina...

...and what have we learned?

Well, for starters, that the BushCo Imperial Preznitcy is rather reminiscent of the royal family of France--heedless of everything, right up to its date with La Guillotine:

They Were Eating Cake

Continue reading "One year after Katrina..." »

August 25, 2006

In case you're wondering why no posts lately...

...I've had a little family emergency.

Well, all right: NOT so little.

My mom had a nasty fall a few days ago while cleaning the kitchen window. The Muskoka chair she was standing on to reach the top of it (it's huge) wasn't designed for someone to use its armrest as a footbrace, apparently, because it gave way when she leaned her foot against it. She came down on her right arm, and now she has a comminuted fracture of her right wrist.

Of course, this is right in line with Murphy's Law. My mom, like most people, is right-handed. If she'd been a southpaw, I guarandamntee you she'd have fallen on her left arm and broken THAT wrist instead. The emergency doc even told her that people tend to fall on the same side as their dominant hand.

So now I'm her right-hand woman, literally. There are many things she can't do for herself until that wrist heals--everything from signing her name on cheques, to putting on her socks. I'm cooking and cleaning and helping her keep the house in order full-time right now, so pray that I don't have any similar mishaps--one thing I refuse to do right now is windows!

(PS to my friends from MMTF: When I'm not too busy looking after my mom, I'm here. Since the Malloy forum mods have decided to play jackass, I've decided to hang with a cooler crowd. See you there!)

August 6, 2006

Don't let this slip under the radar...

...because the mainstream US media certainly will.

And no wonder.

August 3, 2006

Support the troops--heed this sign!

Impeach the President, seen at Bagram

Peaches are in season right now. The time is ripe.

And Neil Young is dead-on.

BTW, here is why I love Chavecito. Who else has the cojones to speak this much truth to power?

August 1, 2006

Somewhere in Texas, a village could lose a few idiots

And guess which village it is...

Like many folks in President Bush's adopted hometown, 83-year-old Robert Westerfield isn't exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the town's newest resident: war protester Cindy Sheehan.

"I wish she'd stay away. Crawford's a Republican town, and she's a dumb Democrat," Westerfield, a lifelong Crawford resident, said Friday while sitting on a bench outside a gas station on Main Street.

Continue reading "Somewhere in Texas, a village could lose a few idiots" »

July 31, 2006

Fair trade: Not just for food, but medicine too

Well, who knew?

The purchase of surgical equipment should be bound by the same fair trade rules as foodstuffs like coffee, sugar or bananas, a researcher suggests.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta said he had anecdotal evidence there was exploitation of workers in developing countries.

In the British Medical Journal, the ear, nose and throat doctor said it was down to purchasers such as the NHS to press for fair trade.

The Department of Health said buying equipment was down to NHS trusts.

Continue reading "Fair trade: Not just for food, but medicine too" »

July 29, 2006

So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!

Scientists have long been saying otherwise, and here's one more study to prove it...

New Zealand troops who served in the Vietnam War suffered significant genetic damage from exposure to Agent Orange, a study suggests.

The chemical was used by the US military in Vietnam in the 1960s.

It has been blamed for a variety of medical conditions suffered by soldiers and up to four million Vietnamese.

The study by New Zealand's scientists could have a big effect on campaigners' efforts to sue major chemical firms and the US government, correspondents say.

Continue reading "So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!" »

July 27, 2006

In case you're wondering...

...what the current death tolls in the Israel/Lebanon and US/Iraq wars are, clicky da linkies.

And prepare for a nasty shock.

July 22, 2006

We are all shitheads now

When I first heard the "We are all (insert name of plucky little hard-done-by country here) now" meme, I was put out by it. It was a little too simplistic an expression of empathy for the victims of the 9-11 tragedy, and besides, it was a bit bass-ackwards, seeing as 9-11 was more like a cold shower of welcome-to-the-world reality for Americans. So when Le Monde proclaimed that "we are all Americans now", my first thought was, I'm unspeakably sad for those whom this has affected, but count me the fuck out of "we". I'm still a Canadian and a citizen of the world, and no amount of terrorism is gonna change that!

Continue reading "We are all shitheads now" »

June 20, 2006

When whiter isn't cleaner

Despite the fact that it's now a white-chocolate city, New Orleans just called in the army...for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Did another hurricane hit? Yes...but not the meteorological kind. Read on:

The Louisiana governor asked for the National Guard to return to New Orleans after a weekend that saw six people murdered in the city.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had earlier called for 300 soldiers and some 60 state police to be sent to the city.

Crime has risen in the city after a brief drop following Hurricane Katrina.

Continue reading "When whiter isn't cleaner" »

May 1, 2006

Here come the heroes, just in time for May Day!

You want cojones? You got 'em...

Bolivia's President Evo Morales has signed a decree placing his country's energy industry under state control.

In a May Day speech, he said foreign energy firms must agree to channel all their sales through the Bolivian state, or else leave the country.

He set the firms a six-month deadline, but the military and state energy officials have already started taking control of the oil fields.

Continue reading "Here come the heroes, just in time for May Day!" »

April 14, 2006

Too true to be truly funny

Tom Toles 'toon, too true

This would be a good time to start rethinking all that, yes?

April 3, 2006

Another unsexy post on de-privatized Argentinian water...

...which, if you're smart, you'll read anyway, because one day it could concern YOU. (I'll tell you why shortly...)

Bob Chapman, of the International Forecaster, writes:

Water is contaminated in some suburbs of Buenos Aires and has been since 1993, when the sewer system and water service was privatized and sold to the French company, Suez.

Last week, Argentina announced it was rescinding its 30-year contract and reinstating government control of the water supply.

Continue reading "Another unsexy post on de-privatized Argentinian water..." »

April 2, 2006

Jill Carroll: "I did not speak freely"

Remember how all the asshats on the right got up in arms about the last video her captors made of Jill Carroll, the freelancer writing for the Christian Science Monitor? Apparently they really believed her when she said capitivity was plushy. Or at least, they were embittered that she emerged from captivity with her head still attached--to the point where they got to fantasizing that she was having sex with her captors and loving it.

Well, looks like Jill has something very different to say, now that she's free:

Continue reading "Jill Carroll: "I did not speak freely"" »

April 1, 2006

Hell's maw is a-gapin'...

Mike Malloy has a wonderful turn of phrase that I sometimes hear him use on his radio show (which, by the way, you shouldn't miss--it's on Air America Radio, weeknights, 10 pm-1 am Eastern. Webcast available here.) Whenever someone particularly vile is doing something richly deserving of condemnation, Mike'll say something like this:

"I can hardly wait until [name] goes to meet his maker. Because when he does, you just know Jesus is gonna pinch his head off, and toss it into the Lake of Fire for the demons to use as a soccer ball."

Continue reading "Hell's maw is a-gapin'..." »

March 26, 2006

How the Christian Peacemakers were freed

The Beeb has the details...

Briton Norman Kember and his Canadian colleagues James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were freed after a multinational military raid acting on information provided by a detainee, the US military says.

The rescue was completed without any shots being fired and with no kidnappers present, suggesting the operation was carefully planned and carried out.

Continue reading "How the Christian Peacemakers were freed" »

Sean Hannity can shut the fuck up now

The weeniest of all the wingnuts (with the possible exception of Tucker Carlson, about whom more later) can now stop asking his annoying "gotcha" question: Is the world better off with or without Saddam? Because at last there is a definitive answer, and it's in the negative. And you'll never guess where it comes from...

Continue reading "Sean Hannity can shut the fuck up now" »

March 23, 2006

More hopeful news from Argentina

More proof that things in Argentina are changing for the better, especially on the human-rights front:

Argentina has decided to make public all secret archives of the armed forces to help uncover human rights violations committed under military rule.

The decision was announced by Defence Minister Nilda Garre.

It comes on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the coup, by which the military seized power in 1976.

Continue reading "More hopeful news from Argentina" »

Argentina de-privatizes its water

Remember when Argentina was the IMF's poster child for privatizing everything, including the kitchen sink?

Remember when Argentina's finances abruptly went down the toilet as a result of that?

Well, take a look at Argentina now, baby!

Argentina has terminated its contract with Aguas Argentinas, a company partly owned by French utility group Suez, to supply drinking water to Buenos Aires.

The government said Aguas had failed to meet its contractual obligations and had reneged on its pledge to improve the quality of the water it supplied.

A new group called Aysa, which is 90% owned by the state and 10% by workers, will take over the contract.

Continue reading "Argentina de-privatizes its water" »

March 22, 2006

Another 9-11 first responder has died

And if you guess correctly what she died of, you win a hunk of asbestos-ridden rubble from Ground Zero:

A 41-year-old paramedic who worked at a morgue for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center was buried Monday after dying of an asbestos-related cancer.

Continue reading "Another 9-11 first responder has died" »

March 16, 2006

...and equal mediocrity for all

What a surprise. Seems the much-vaunted US healthcare system (or rather, LACK thereof) just ain't all that 'n' a bag of chips, after all...

Startling research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health-care quality suggests that Americans -- rich, poor, black, white -- get roughly equal treatment, but it's woefully mediocre for all.

"This study shows that health care has equal-opportunity defects," said Dr. Donald Berwick, who runs the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass.

Continue reading "...and equal mediocrity for all" »

March 11, 2006

Is the Pigman glad now?

Hey, Pigman Limbaugh...you'll be happy to know that Tom Fox is dead. Yay! One more pesky peacenik has learned his lesson the hard way. I bet you're popping OxyContin by the fat old fistful just to celebrate this...

The body of a kidnapped U.S. peace activist was found bound and shot in Baghdad, police said on Saturday, while President George W. Bush warned Americans of more fighting and sacrifice before U.S. troops could come home.

[...]

Police said the body of Tom Fox, kidnapped in November with three colleagues by a group calling itself the Swords of Truth, was discovered on Thursday with the hands tied and a single gunshot wound to the head at a rubbish dump in western Baghdad.

Continue reading "Is the Pigman glad now?" »

March 9, 2006

Taking the machismo out of rape

A blow-up sex doll illustrates an anti-rape campaign poster in Mexico

One more look at how certain countries are lagging behind in human rights: Mexico's huge misogyny problem. From the Beeb:

Mexico's government is using blow-up sex dolls in a new TV campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace.

The ads feature dolls, dressed as secretaries and maids, who have to put up with leering and groping from male colleagues.

Officials say the aim of the campaign is to make clear that women are not sexual objects.

Continue reading "Taking the machismo out of rape" »

February 25, 2006

Compassionate conservative? My ass!

There's a reason why so many people are getting more and more reluctant to loosen the purse strings nowadays. Quite aside from the nose-holding aspect of so many charities claiming to be the answer to problems better addressed by good old-fashioned socialism, you get rather unfortunate stuff like this leaking out to the media:

Sen. Rick Santorum's charity donated about 40 percent of the $1.25 million it spent during a four-year period, well below Better Business Bureau standards — paying out the rest for overhead, including several hundred thousand dollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll.

The charity, Operation Good Neighbor, is described on its Web site as an organization promoting "compassionate conservatism" by providing grants to small nonprofit groups, many of them religious.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance says charitable organizations should spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on program activities.

Continue reading "Compassionate conservative? My ass!" »

February 22, 2006

Well thanks! Thanks a lot...

Your Blog is Shitty

No, nobody sent me this. I found it while surfing, couldn't stop laughing, and just thought I'd share!

February 15, 2006

The OTHER Mohammed pictures you're not supposed to see

No, they're not cartoons. They're PHOTOS:

An Australian TV channel has broadcast previously unpublished images showing apparent US abuse of prisoners in Iraq's Abu Ghraib jail in 2003.

The images on SBS TV are thought to be from the same source as those that caused an outcry around the world and led to several US troops being jailed.

The new images show "homicide, torture and sexual humiliation", SBS said.

The US has said the images could only "incite unnecessary violence" and endanger US military personnel.

The broadcast of the images comes at a time of increased tension between Muslim nations and the West over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Continue reading "The OTHER Mohammed pictures you're not supposed to see" »

February 14, 2006

Boycott this 'toon!

Tom Tomorrow rocks. Jyllands-Posten sucks. And this 'toon proves it.

It's more worth reproducing than any bomb-in-a-turban one. And I do it in the name of free speech, so nyaaaaaah.

Jyllands-Posten is now officially full of shit

Well, here goes yet another card from under the Jyllands-Posten's stupid cartoonish house. Writing for Slate, Reza Aslan lets slip an amazing fact: There is, in fact, NO Koranic prohibition against portraying Mohammed, only in worshipping graven images of any prophet or deity. Remember that distinction, Gentle Reader, because it is vital. Case in point:

Not long ago, as I was strolling through the sprawling bazaars of the holy city of Qom in Iran—a city often referred to as "the Vatican of Shiism"—I came across a cramped, catacomblike shop that sold religious trinkets to tourists. Hanging in the shop's window was a poster depicting what looked like a beautiful young girl with large, bright eyes and a cherubic face lit up by some unseen source of light. The girl wore a loose headdress, like a turban she had carelessly let unravel, from which peeked thick strands of lush, black hair. She looked skyward, her rosy lips parted in a shy smile.

I was thrilled, thinking I had found a poster of the Prophet Mohammed's beloved daughter, Fatima, whose veneration in Islam (particularly Shiite Islam) is matched by that of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism. Most stores in Qom carry prints depicting heroic Muslim figures like the prophet's son-in-law, Ali, or the prophet's grandson, Husayn. But a portrait of Fatima is exceedingly difficult to find.

I rushed into the store and breathlessly asked the shopkeeper how much he wanted for the poster of Fatima hanging in his window.

He clucked his tongue in disgust and shook his head.

"That is not Fatima!" he cried sternly. "That is the Prophet Mohammed!"

Continue reading "Jyllands-Posten is now officially full of shit" »

February 8, 2006

I hold this 'toon to be self-evident

Lady Liberty is with Cindy Sheehan

February 4, 2006

Wanted: Voices of reason. All creeds. Apply to Dept. of Free Speech.

A British Muslim cleric has come out in condemnation of two things that both richly deserve it: some offensive cartoonage, defaming the prophet Mohammed, and also those who have gone overboard over it...

A march in which protesters chanted violent anti-Western slogans such as "7/7 is on its way" should have been banned, a leading British Muslim said.

Asghar Bukhari said the demonstration in London on Friday should have been stopped by police because the group had been advocating violence.

The chairman of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee said the protesters "did not represent British Muslims".

Continue reading "Wanted: Voices of reason. All creeds. Apply to Dept. of Free Speech." »

January 11, 2006

Screw abstinence. Carry condoms!

Picture this: You're young. You're in love. You remember--dimly!--that you were told to just say no. And at the time, you did, with all good intentions...but that was before you found love. Love has a way of making all other intentions evaporate. And now it's down to that crucial moment: do you say yes or no to the one you love?

Now, if this were the United States, you'd be screwed. In more ways than one. It'd be either go on saying no--against your will!--or else have sex woefully unprepared.

But ah, my friends, this is Colombia. And get a load of what could be in store for you:

Continue reading "Screw abstinence. Carry condoms!" »

January 8, 2006

Space tourists = space TERRORISTS?

I'm trying very hard not to laugh over this...honest I am. But get a load of the latest bizarre directive from the FAA:

Space tourists must be screened to ensure they are not terrorists, according to proposed regulations from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The draft report's suggestions aim to prevent a terrorist from destroying a spacecraft or using it as a weapon.

However, the report has no strict proposals on the health of any would-be space tourists.

Continue reading "Space tourists = space TERRORISTS?" »

January 4, 2006

Can't you read the signs?

Honestly, sometimes I'm amazed at what you can do when you put your mind to it...and bend the resources of the state to the task. Here's a nice long piece from Vheadline.com detailing the many successes of Hugo Chavez. It seems that free education and massive state-run literacy programs are not only a hit with the people (that stands to reason; hungry minds are eager for anything that will feed them!); they're also a further proof that socialism works and redounds to the overall good of society.

Most striking of all is how quickly Chavez has managed to virtually wipe out illiteracy in Venezuela. Here's how he did it:

Continue reading "Can't you read the signs?" »

January 3, 2006

This war ain't gonna pay for itself, nosirree...

Forget everything you heard out of Washington in '03.

No, on second thought--remember it. And throw it back in the faces of all the wingnuts who repeated this bullcrap to you. The war in Iraq is going to be a money pit. And trust the media of Old Europe--in this case, Germany--to get the story right where the US media is falling on its ass:

Continue reading "This war ain't gonna pay for itself, nosirree..." »

January 2, 2006

Triumph of truth over fascism

Beam, beam--I'm so proud. Vheadline.com has just published my first letter to the editor.

Continue reading "Triumph of truth over fascism" »

December 31, 2005

I resolve...

Well, it's that time of year again, folks. Time to consider what new leaf you're going to turn over when you chuck out the old calendar. Time to get all good-intentiony and make meaningful changes in your lifestyle. Or at least make pledges to make them. Or...

Oh, who the hell am I kidding! Who seriously makes those damn New Year's resolutions? Nobody I know...nobody who'd cop to it, anyway. And certainly not me. What is there to resolve, anyway?

Continue reading "I resolve..." »

December 30, 2005

Consider the means...

A juxtaposition on the front page of the NewStandard news site jumped out at me today:

Chicago Turns Down Discounted Venezuelan Oil

Chicago's poor face transporation fare hikes while city snubs cheap fuel offer (12/28)

This Winter, Some Choose Between Warmth, Food, Health

Families suffer through cold months unable to afford the very basic necessities (12/27)

Continue reading "Consider the means..." »

December 28, 2005

Pinochet: Going down at last?

Let's hope this is it. From the Beeb:

Chile's former ruler Augusto Pinochet has been fingerprinted and photographed by police, as part of his indictment over killings and disappearances.

The general's picture was taken from the front and the side at his mansion in the Chilean capital Santiago.

A lawyer for 90-year-old Gen Pinochet called it "an affront to a former president of the republic".

Continue reading "Pinochet: Going down at last?" »

Being German is no fun

If anyone ever wonders what I've got against fascism, why I say it shames all Germans, or why I say it's not dead yet (unfortunately), and why I say fundamentalists have the same mentality as fascists, google this place sometime: Colonia Dignidad.

Continue reading "Being German is no fun" »

December 23, 2005

A Whited Sepulchre Christmas

Right-wing religious hypocrisy truly knows no bounds this year. Check out parts one, two and three of Laurel Hester's painful (but all too typical) story, courtesy of The Big Gay Picture:

Laurel Hester has spent her whole life trying to make the world a better place. That is why the events that have followed her diagnosis with terminal lung cancer a year ago have seemed so strange to her. She assumed a lifetime spent making the world a better place for others would entitle her to a measure of fairness in her time of desperate need.

Laurel Hester was wrong.

Continue reading "A Whited Sepulchre Christmas" »

December 22, 2005

A war without a defined enemy is...what?

Why is everything always a war with right-wingers? Considering they are the people least inclined to actually go and fight, is their bellicosity ever justified?

Consider, for example, the War on Drugs. Or better yet, the War on Terra. That latter is the name I prefer, because it's a global war without an antagonist; it might as well be a war on Earth herself. It's ludicrous to declare a war on terror, or even terrorism. You can't declare war on an abstract concept, only on an actual enemy nation.

Continue reading "A war without a defined enemy is...what?" »

December 19, 2005

Washington Consensus, then and now...

Profiteering imperialist boneheads never learn, it seems. Check out their latest fuck-up in Iraq:

Violent demonstrations broke out across Iraq and the oil minister threatened to resign Monday after the government raised the prices of gasoline and cooking fuel by up to nine times.

Continue reading "Washington Consensus, then and now..." »

December 15, 2005

Shouldn't they try this at home first?

From the "Do as we say, not as we do" files: The US calls for electoral reform in Venezuela.

Shouldn't they try that at home first? After all, they have a lot of electoral problems of their own. More, in fact, since they've twice gotten saddled with Dictator Bush.

Continue reading "Shouldn't they try this at home first?" »

May 13, 2005

You MUST remember this

Absolutely essential reading: The Downing Street Memo.

Continue reading "You MUST remember this" »

Conscientious objectors, take note

Army recruiting has become increasingly desperate lately. Just take a listen to this.

By the way, this sort of "marketing technique" is highly illegal.