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September 29, 2006

America the Tyrannical


Today is the beginning of the death of the USA. The ship of fools is sinking.

The US Senate has passed a law that wipes out 800 years of history and basic human rights. The USA has passed a law condoning conduct that was one of the catalysts towards the creation of America; the rejection of king-like powers and the embracing of rule by the people, for the people. They have given the president (or anyone in the executive) the power to arbitrarily kidnap you, suspend your rights of habeas corpus, and torture you, according to his definition of torture, and they never have to tell you anything while doing this to you.

The land of the free and the home of the brave, the USA has joined the ranks of every two bit dictator it's ever professed to despise. George Bush and his criminal, cowardly, pathetic cronies have become tyrants, they can count Saddam Hussein as a brother, or Pol-Pot, or Pinochet.

The reason this law was initiated, and passed, was to insulate the Bush administration from prosecution for torturing people during the farce that is the war on terror. They are spending their time not trying to make their country safer or help make life better for their citizens (whom they work for) but passing laws pardoning themselves for crimes committed against American citizens and non-citizens. In the process they are destroying democracy.

This is so fucking goddam outrageous on so many levels, I feel like throwing up. Where are George's shoes?

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September 22, 2006

Justice for Maher Arar!

Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was kidnapped at J.F.K. Airport in New York on September 2002 while returning home from a family vacation. He was held in solitary confinement, was refused access to a lawyer, and rendered to Syrian intelligence authorities where he was brutally tortured for 10 months.

From the Center for Constitutional Rights:
On February 16, 2006 a federal judge dismissed the Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit brought on behalf of Maher Arar. The judge ruled that 'national security' and 'foreign relations' concerns made it impossible to hold liable the government officials who sent Maher to Syria to be tortured.

This is a travesty. Mr. Arar deserves justice. The USA is our supposed ally. We're fighting under their goddam command in Afghanistan. I demand the Canadian government take action and secure justice for Maher Arar, and while they're at it - reaffirm Canada's commitment to the Geneva Conventions.

If you are Canadian, I urge you to contact your MP and tell them to pressure Stephen Harper for action.

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September 20, 2006

The Geneva Suggestions?

Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State and (unwitting?) Bush propagandist, in one of the understatements of the century, has said he believes the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis for the war on terror.

Actually, the world has firmly stated it's belief in the war's immorality. From the moment the US invaded Iraq the world has been opposed to it, and with each new horror story about torture, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, civilian deaths, corporate corruption, war profiteering...etc...the world gets more sickened and angered by the actions of the USA.

Since the end of WW2, the Geneva Conventions have served to guide the conduct of nations engaged in war in an attempt to make war more humane, with the ultimate goal of doing away with war completely. There has been no confusion, no ambiguity over their meaning. And every signatory nation and it's citizens is obliged by law to follow it's guidelines. Not to do so would make one a criminal.

In the 1990's, the USA passed a law criminalizing violations of the Geneva Convention, making it a crime not only under international law, but US federal law as well. This would hold many currently serving in the US government criminally liable for their conduct during the last five or six years, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a host of other high ranking elected officials, political appointees, military officers, intelligence officers, civilian contractors, etc. And so we're treated to the spectacle of the USA suddenly explaining that the Geneva Conventions are 'vague' and need to be clarified. That they need to be 'reinterpreted' in order to apply to the new world order they seek to impose.

They're scared shitless that they might be held accountable.

Here (part 1) and here (part 2) is the comedy and tragedy of men who believe themselves to be above the law coming to realize that maybe they aren't, and so, holy crap, they realize the real world still exists along with accountability, and they better re-write and redefine those 'vague and outdated guidelines' before they are put on trial.

To give you an idea of the US's selective support of the Geneva Conventions, here's what the right wing think tank (and co-architect of the war on terror) The Heritage Foundation had to say about them in 2003 in reference to Saddam Hussein and justification for the Iraq War:
The laws on war have a long history. In 1907, the international community convened the first of a series of diplomatic conferences that endeavored to codify the "laws and customs of war." The first of these conferences was the 1907 Hague Convention on the Conduct of War. After World War II, the international community met again to expand these customary laws of war to meet with the changing times. The result was the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, which introduced the concept of individual criminal liability and "universal jurisdiction" to try individuals responsible for "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions.

The article goes on to thoroughly list the violations committed by Saddam Hussein, including this:
Videotape that aired on Iraqi state television and Al Jazeera on March 23 showing deceased U.S. soldiers also included footage of U.S. prisoners of war (POWs) being interrogated by Iraqi officials. Some of the captured soldiers appeared to be disoriented and badly injured in the video. One of the female POWs was shown lying on the ground with a bandaged ankle. The POWs were identified as members of the 507th maintenance company who were ambushed in Nasiriya after taking a wrong turn.

Something as minor (and inconclusive) as a bandaged ankle is seen as proof of Geneva violations, in accordance with article 17:

Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information. If he wilfully infringes this rule, he may render himself liable to a restriction of the privileges accorded to his rank or status.

Each Party to a conflict is required to furnish the persons under its jurisdiction who are liable to become prisoners of war, with an identity card showing the owner's surname, first names, rank, army, regimental, personal or serial number or equivalent information, and date of birth. The identity card may, furthermore, bear the signature or the fingerprints, or both, of the owner, and may bear, as well, any other information the Party to the conflict may wish to add concerning persons belonging to its armed forces. As far as possible the card shall measure 6.5 x 10 cm. and shall be issued in duplicate. The identity card shall be shown by the prisoner of war upon demand, but may in no case be taken away from him.

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

Prisoners of war who, owing to their physical or mental condition, are unable to state their identity, shall be handed over to the medical service. The identity of such prisoners shall be established by all possible means, subject to the provisions of the preceding paragraph.

The questioning of prisoners of war shall be carried out in a language which they understand.


But near drowning (I hate the word waterboarding, it sounds like a sport), sleep deprivation, humiliation, rape, beatings, mental anguish, and on and on....are not.

When it serves their purpose, the Geneva Conventions are legitimate and without ambiguity. When it doesn't they are vague and irrelevent.

The immoral basis for the war on terror is perfectly clear to the entire planet. All 6 billion.

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September 18, 2006

Back To Afghanistan...


I just read an outrageous article by Brian Cloughley on the Counterpunch website which really reinforces my belief that Canadian troops should not be involved in Afghanistan.

It seems that American officials are imposing tolls on roads they deem to be in need of tolls. In this country of abject poverty, starvation and violence, they are demanding a $20 toll on the Kabul-Kandahar highway from every driver that uses it. $20 in a country where the average schoolteacher earns $70 a month is not pocket money, it's everything.

And - surprise - Coca-Cola rears it's ugly, destructive, exploitive head in the third world once again. A new Coke bottling plant, worth $25 million, was just opened in Kabul (the owner of which lives in Dubai). For a little perspective, here is the state of public nutrition in Afghanistan today, according to the Senlis Council:
"After five years of intensive international involvement in Afghanistan, the country remains ravaged by severe poverty and the spreading starvation of the rural and urban poor. Despite promises from the US-led international community guaranteeing to provide the resources and assistance necessary for its reconstruction and development needs, Afghanistan's people are starving to death. . . . . More than 70% of the population is chronically malnourished, while less than a quarter of the population has access to safe drinking water."

So...reconstruction? Nah, screw that. We'll keep robbing from the poor to give to the rich, because what do starving people need more than anything? A multinational corporation stealing their water, transforming it into poison and selling it back to them! It's all very logical in the framework of colonialism. It makes reports of Canadian troops handing out candy to Afghan children sound even more absurd.

CANADA OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NOW!

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September 15, 2006

The Free Press and ADD

Project Censored has released their top 25 censored or under-reported stories of 2006, and quite a list it is.

Among stories on Canada's planned military subordinance to the US, the US military's contracting of human rights abusers, and the continuing rape of Iraq, story #5 really caught my eye: U.S. uses Tsunami to Military Advantage in Southeast Asia. To quote:
At the same time that U.S. aid was widely publicized domestically, our coinciding military motives were virtually ignored by the press. While supplying our aid (which when compared proportionately to that of other, less wealthy countries, was an insulting pittance), we simultaneously bolstered military alliances with regional powers in, and began expanding our bases throughout, the Indian Ocean region.

With all the entertainment news, politiclone punditry and speculation on who's tit will pop out next, I guess there's just not enought time in the day for the press to get around to the important stuff.

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Bah...Who Needs Credibility?

It looks like the proverbial flying crap is about to hit the thermantidote. Someone in American mainstream media has finally said what the rest of the world has known for years, that the Bush administration has no-zero-nada credibility. From Keith Olbermann:
"If the Iraq debate seems especially exhausting, it may be due to the steady erosion of the foundation for any productive debate, facts."

But hey, who needs credibility when you can count on the rest of the media to stand slack jawed with their brains oozing out of their ears. The following is from an interview between Bush and David Ignatius, Washington Post Sept 15/06, concerning Iran:
The Khatami visit "said that the United States is willing to listen to voices," Bush explained. "And I hope that sends a message to the Iranian people that we're an open society, and that we respect the people of Iran." Clearly, the White House wants to reach out to segments of Iranian opinion beyond the hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Aside from the inane nature of this statement (and proveably false), a search of the White House web site on Middle East policy turns up only this on Iran (about 3/4 down the page):

The World Faces A Grave Threat From The Radical Regime In Iran

This Summer's Crisis In Lebanon Has Made It Clearer Than Ever That The World Faces A Grave Threat From The Radical Regime In Iran. The Iranian regime arms, funds, and advises Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist network except al Qaeda. It interferes extensively in Iraq, denies basic human rights to millions of its people, and is pursuing nuclear weapons in open defiance of its international obligations. We know the death and suffering that Iran’s sponsorship of terrorists has brought, and we can imagine how much worse it would be if Iran were allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.

Many Nations Are Working Together To Solve This Problem. The UN has passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities.

Today Is The Deadline For Iran's Leaders To Reply To The Reasonable Proposal The International Community Has Made, Yet So Far They Have Responded With Further Defiance And Delay. We'll continue working closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution, but there must be consequences for Iran’s defiance, and we must not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

It ends on a rather threatening note, and no mention of any programs or initiatives, other than the UN's, towards a peaceful resolution.

Ignatius' article quotes Bush as saying:
"I would say to the Iranian people: We respect your history. We respect your culture. We admire the entrepreneurial skills of your people. I would say to the Iranian people that I recognize the importance of your sovereignty -- that you're a proud nation, and you want to have a positive future for your citizens," Bush said, answering quickly and without notes.

(Ooooh, without notes!)
Here's some US/Iran history for both Bush and Ignatius to mull over. Here's some more (CIA overthrows democratic govt. in 1953)......and more (US backs Saddam Hussein in Iran/Iraq war). There's lots more, enough to to keep their collective (ha!) brains busy for a while.

Bush goes on to say:
"I know that the more we can show the Iranian people the true intention of the American government," Bush concluded, "the more likely it is that we will be able to reach a diplomatic solution to a difficult problem."

They know the true intention of the American government, it's being demonstrated quite clearly right next door.

Father: Well son, what are your intentions with my daughter?
Suitor: Well, first I'd like to beat her. When she's all softened up I'll probably rape her repeatedly, and when I'm done with that I'll drain all her blood.

The article ends on a happy note, with Ignatius being unable to frame any sort of perspective other than fawning obedience:
I came away with a sense that Bush is serious about finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis, and that he is looking hard for ways to make connections between America and Iran.

He can make no sense, apparently, of history; that what George Bush says is rarely (never?) what he means.

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September 11, 2006

And Now, Your Moment of Reason

An architect of rational thought:
"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature."
- Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), Architect

...and he spent his career trying to reflect the beauty and harmony of nature in his work.

Nature is our god, whether we want it to be or not, because that is the force we are all subject to. We are animals living on a planet which we share with other animals, all of us affected by the same laws of nature and the same consequences if we ignore those laws.

If that belittles you, think of it this way; since nature is the omnipresent force in all our lives, and since we are an intrinsic part of nature, then it follows that we are god, along with the mosquitos.

God is a maggot.

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September 10, 2006

I Guess I'm A Conspiracy Nut

Alexander Cockburn, in his latest article writing for Counterpunch, takes to task all those who believe that there is more than meets the eye concerning 9/11. He rails against the "fundamental stupidity" of conspiracy theorists.

While he raises valid and important points regarding incompetence and cronyism, his rebuke to conspiracy falls short.

His first point, that the non-existent military response to the attacks on that day was purely a result of incompetence really takes a stretch of logic to agree with. I can understand a few instances of ineptitude, but all? Nothing worked right on that day, except the civilians on flight 93 overpowering the hijackers. So the entire homeland defense system of the US military failed miserably, but a few civilians were able to show them how to do it right? While I agree with him that military history is plump with incompetence, he cites history as proof that militaries have always been incompetent and we really should expect them to fail miserably all the time, in spite of the intense, specialized, rigorous training they recieve.

He ignores the fact that all video footage of the hit on the Pentagon has been seized, with only a few blurry, inconclusive frames having been released. Eyewitnesses are great, but 100 different people are going to see 100 distinct versions of what happened. Show me the video to show me the truth.

He then brings up the JFK assasination in an attempt to further his point, saying:
Anyone who ever looked at the JFK assassination will know that there are endless anomalies and loose ends. Eyewitness testimony – as so often – is conflicting, forensic evidence possibly misconstrued, mishandled or just missing. But in my view, the Warren Commission, as confirmed in almost all essentials by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the fatal shots from the Schoolbook Depository. The evidentiary chain for his guilt is persuasive, and the cumulative scenarios of the conspiracy nuts entirely unconvincing. But of course – as the years roll by, and even though no death bed confession has ever buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios -- the nuts keep on toiling away, their obsessions as unflagging as ever.

This is just ridiculous. There is conclusive evidence that Oswald couldn't have acted alone, which by definition is a conspiracy. Apparently Mr. Cockburn believes in magic.

His take on the collapse of the WTC's:
The demolition scenario is classic who-moved-the-stonery. The WTC towers didn’t fall down because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port Authority, and because they were struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, they fell because Dick Cheney’s agents methodically planted demolition charges in the preceding days. It was a conspiracy of thousands, all of whom –- party to mass murder –- have held their tongues ever since. The “conspiracy” is always open-ended as to the number of conspirators, widening steadily to include all the people involved in the execution and cover-up of the demolition of the Towers and the onsslaujght on the Pentagon, from the teams acquiring the explosives and themissile, inserting the explosives in the relevant floors of three vast buildings, (moving day after day among the unsuspecting office workers), then on 9/11 activating the detonators.

He ignores many facts. To name a few:
  • that no other steel framed building in history, anywhere in the world, has collapsed due to fire, in spite of some of them burning hotter and much longer than the fires on 9/11.
  • video evidence of demolition-type explosions occuring as the buildings collapsed, and the demolition-like speed at which they collapsed.
  • the steel used in the buildings could not melt in the temperature that jet fuel burns at.
  • that weeks after the incident, there was molten metal found deep underground on the site.
  • seismic evidence of numerous explosions happening just prior to the collapse.
  • building 7, for which absolutely no credible reason for it's collapse has ever been offered.
I certainly agree with him concerning Giuliani's corruption and incompetence, but in my view, to not consider the possibility of a conspiracy within the US government, in light of all the evidence and unanswered questions, in light of all the subsequent acts of the Bush administration, is nutty.

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September 09, 2006

The Pope Pipes Up

Pope Benedict has scolded Canadians for being fag loving baby killers.

This line I particularely like:
In the name of tolerance, your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse...

Damn. We missed our chance at intolerance. Don't worry though, I'm sure we'll have another shot at it. But until then it's darn trying with those queers running around shouting definitions in everyone's face.

No word on how P. B. feels about falling in love, equal rights for women, or Nazis for that matter.

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NDP Lives Up To It's Name

I knew there was a reason I voted NDP. From CBC news (full story here):
Members of the federal New Democratic Party on Saturday overwhelmingly endorsed party leader Jack Layton's call to pull Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

The vote came during the national party's convention in Quebec City, where the mission in Afghanistan has dominated discussions and debates.

Although a number of delegates rose to speak strongly against the motion, it easily passed when put to a vote, which means it is now official NDP policy.

An estimated 90 per cent of delegates voted in favor of the resolution from Layton.

"Delegates, I urge us all to stand together and reiterate our support for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces and bring them home," said Layton.

I applaud the NDP for listening and responding to Canadians' concerns, the majority of whom want out of Afghanistan. At the very least, Canadians can say that there is a viable opposition to war mongers in Parliament. This seems to be one of the major differences between Canada's and the US' political scene, where the Democratic party can't quite live up to it's name.

There's Not Supposed To Be a Post War Iraq

This from the Washington Post today:
Long before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forbade military strategists to develop plans for securing a postwar Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said.

Brig. Gen. Mark E. Scheid told the Newport News Daily Press in an interview published yesterday that Rumsfeld had said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a postwar plan.

Scheid was a colonel with the U.S. Central Command, the unit that oversees military operations in the Middle East, in late 2001 when Rumsfeld "told us to get ready for Iraq."

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us . . . that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4" -- plans that covered post-invasion operations such as security, stability and reconstruction, said Scheid, who is retiring in about three weeks, but "I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that."

But the evidence leads one to a different conclusion; that the Bush war criminals never intended to leave Iraq. The war was planned to be indefinite. Rumsfeld's statement above, about going in, taking out the regime and then leaving, was simply what he told his underlings to keep them in the dark, so they wouldn't question his 'superior' military knowledge and tactical skills. The plan, from the beginning, was to occupy Iraq. Why else is the US building up to 14 permanent military bases there?

From the New York Times, April 20/03:

the U.S. is planning a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of Iraq, one that would grant the Pentagon access to military bases and project American influence into the heart of the unsettled region.

The Iraq war started on April 19, 2003. At the exact same time they were carrying out plans for a long term occupation.

Still don't believe me? Lets examine history. What does the USA do after it's stated mission for a war is complete?

  • Japan - Following the end of World War II and the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, for 27 years Okinawa was under United States administration. During this time the US military established numerous bases on Okinawa Honto and elsewhere. On May 15, 1972, Okinawa once again became part of Japan, although to this day the United States maintains a large military presence there.
  • Korea - A mile or so outside of Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison in central Seoul is one of the 180 GI camptowns that exist outside of every significantly sized military base in South Korea. Source
  • Kosovo - Camp Bondsteel
  • Cuba - Guantanamo Bay
The US military, as of 2003, owned or operated 702 military bases in approximately 130 countries. This doesn't include the 6000 or so bases in the US itself. For a more complete picture, read this excellent article by Chalmers Johnson of Common Dreams.

And none of these places has anywhere near the natural resources of Iraq.

Consider this little tidbit of information; the US Department of Defense is the largest purchaser of oil in the world. In 2004, annual US Military fuel consumption reached 144 million barrels of oil, making them the worlds largest consumer (the entire UK uses around 650 million barrels per year). Since the start of the Iraq war, up to 2005, the US military has burned 2.1 billion gallons of fuel.

The occupation of Iraq is intrinsic to the dreams of empire floating in the villainous minds of the men behind the American war machine. Without it their planes, tanks and hummers sit idle.

From the beginning, the plan has been never ending war. A war straight out of the pages of Orwell's 1984, the vade mecum of the Bush administration.


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September 08, 2006

The CBC's Israeli Bias

From the CBC:
Israel lifted its eight-week-old naval blockade of Lebanon Friday after European warships started patrolling the coastline to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah.

Israel said the blockade was aimed at preventing the arrival of arms shipments to Hezbollah during the conflict, which started after eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two seized during a July 12 cross-border Hezbollah raid.

These statements are based on the dishonest assumption that Israel is the victim in this conflict, when actually they are the aggressor. The question of why Israel, the invading nation, the aggressor nation, has the right to impose a naval blockade to prevent Hezbollah from arming itself in defense of this aggression is completely ignored. In a reality based world, Lebanon would have the unequivocal right to impose blockades on Israel, who invaded their country. But no, Israel is apparently free to continue arming itself with happy fun-time weapons like cluster bombs, with which it blanketed Lebanon during the final few days before the cease-fire.

Further in, the story contradicts itself:
When Israel withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon in 2000, ending an 18-year occupation, the UN-drawn international line did not put Shebaa Farms in Lebanese territory, but in the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967, and later annexed.

So lets get this straight; Hezbollah started it by killing eight soldiers, even though Israel has been illegally occupying southern Lebanon for 18 years. Uh huh.

Lets change a few names around and see how this would go over in a different time and place:

NEWS FLASH: The UN has successfully brokered a ceasefire between The USA and Vietnam today. The ceasefire follows a concentrated effort on the part of the US to plant as many land mines as possible around the Vietnamese countryside before the end of hostilities. The US, citing unprovoked Vietnamese aggression, has demanded the right to impose a blockade of all weapons shipments to the tiny country. The US, meanwhile, is currently occupying Cambodia, placing strategic assets within easy striking distance of Vietnam.

Come to think of it, the press accounts probably wouldn't have been much different.

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The War on Dissent

I came across this story at Crooks & Liars. The US Department of Homeland Security is filing a criminal complaint against Greg Palast in relation to his filming of a documentary about Hurricane Katrina.

Since Palast is one of my favorite journalists, I immediately tried to access his web page to get the full story, but there seems to be a problem accessing his web site.

Coincidence? Maybe. We'll wait and see.
UPDATE: 12:40 pm...still no access.

UPDATE: 6:00 pm and the site is accessable.
September 06, 2006

A Disservice to Self Sacrifice

The organizers of the Halifax Air Show have decided to not feature the same airplane, an A-10 Thunderbolt II or 'Warthog', that shot upon Canadian soldiers, killing one in Afghanistan. Citing "...sensitivity to the emotions that this type of incident invokes...", they decided to replace the Warthog with the Eagle.

Airshows are little more than military propaganda. Sure, they have some non-military aspects, but the big ticket items, what really brings people in are the F-16C Fighting Falcons and the Stealth Bombers. At the Halifax show, there are 12 Canadian military aircraft, 17 American and 7 civilian, or around 20%. That the majority are military (and American at that) leads me to believe that the purpose is to glorify war.

The decision to not use the Warthog smells like a continuation of war propaganda. What the organizers are implying is that the attendees shouldn't have to face the negativity of war, only the shiny, gleaming illusion of it. That there's no place for reality at an event where the public could actually take stock of what it's tax dollars are paying for.

It's dishonest and unethical, and I believe does a great disservice to the life of Pte. Mark Graham and the other soldiers wounded in the attack. The aircraft that killed them, aptly named Warthog, should be on display prominently as a reminder that death. period. is the consequence of war.

And Now, Your Moment of Reason

In light of my previous post, here is my first ode to rationality without an atheistic theme:
A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. - James Madison, 1832

Farce and tragedy. Two words that sum up the state of politics in North America today.

Secrecy only serves to enable misdeeds and foster corruption, and the proliferation of it reinforces the idea (among all sectors of society) that we the people are unable to govern ourselves.

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The Mangling of Logic pt. 8

Condoleeza Rice is today's spokesperson for all that is inane. The following exchange is between Rice and 9/11 Commissioner Ben-Veniste (video here):
BEN-VENISTE: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

She goes on to explain, with a slightly impatient tone in her voice, that this PDB (presidential daily briefing) contains absolutely no warning of any sort of impending terrorist attack. It was simply an attempt by the FBI to give some historic perspective on Bin Laden's activities.

Lets examine the title (which she confirms) again. ""Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

What it doesn't say is Bin Laden Historically Determined to Attack the United States. Nor does it say Bin Laden Was Determined to Attack Inside the United States. It does not imply has been, or could be, or might, or did or tried to.

What it does say, through the use of strong, clear language, is that Bin Laden Is Determined to Attack Inside the USA. There can be no confusion, unless you are purposefully sowing it.

Of course, this could all be cleared up if the PDB in question would be declassified. But, because secrecy is their only refuge from justice and the truth, they refuse to do so.

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September 05, 2006

Harper's Adumbrative Aptitude

From today's Toronto Star:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was chided by critics over the weekend for failing to properly explain to Canadians why this country is fighting in Afghanistan.

The story goes on to list several of Mr. Harper's quirky personality traits including:
  • Declare Victory even if the problem isn't solved see this
  • Surround yourself with symbols and props see this
  • Keep the opposition divided see this
  • It is not a lie if you tell it to the media see this
Seems as though Steve and George have the same advisors.

Or maybe they both receive signals from the same aliens.

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Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!

With Prime Minister Stephen Harper deciding that the Canadian Military should no longer concern itself with peacekeeping, and instead should focus on waging wars of conquest, lets examine what's happening in Afghanistan today.

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Taliban are still going strong nearly five years after the US invaded:
When the Taliban fell nearly five years ago, Lashkar Gah seemed like fertile ground for the United States-led effort to stabilize the country. For 30 years during the cold war, Americans carried out the largest development project in Afghanistan's history here, building a modern capital with suburban-style tract homes, a giant hydroelectric dam and 300 miles of canals that made 250,000 acres of desert bloom. Afghans called this city "Little America."

Today, Little America is the epicenter of a Taliban resurgence and an explosion in drug cultivation that has claimed the lives of 106 American and NATO soldiers this year and doubled American casualty rates countrywide. Across Afghanistan, roadside bomb attacks are up by 30 percent; suicide bombings have doubled. Statistically it is now nearly as dangerous to serve as an American soldier in Afghanistan as it is in Iraq.

Wait a minute. The Taliban fell? They were beaten? Well, sort of. It seems that they ran away - to Pakistan, where they found safe harbor. Pakistan, of course, is one of the US's key allies in the war on terror, in the words of G. W. Bush (Feb 22/06):
The second stop on my trip will be to Pakistan. Pakistan is a key ally in the war on terror... Five years ago, Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. That all changed after September the 11th. President Musharraf understood that he had to make a fundamental choice for his people. He could turn a blind eye and leave his people hostage to terrorists, or he could join the free world in fighting the terrorists. President Musharraf made the right choice, and the United States of America is grateful for his leadership.
- my italics

One other nation that recognized (unofficially) the Taliban regime was the USA, who had the Taliban over for a chat:
We have stressed in particular to Mr. Ramatullah the importance of Taliban's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1333 and to the international community's concerns, including handing over indicted terrorist Usama bin Laden to a country where he can be brought to justice, and closing the terrorist camps.

Interestingly, any links that I've come across that point to official transcripts of these meetings turn up 404 document not found errors (go here and click on the 'transcript on-line here' link. It takes you to the US State Department website and the 404 error). The rewriting of history continues.

And then there is poppy production. In the 1990's, the Taliban had virtually eradicated poppy cultivation, but by August, 2002 - after the US invaded, while the country was occupied by an invading army, poppy production inexplicably surges back. Today they produce 6100 tons of opium, enough for 610 tons of heroin, the major benificiaries of this being not evil drug lords but financial institutions, probably your trusted bank.

So what, exactly, are Canadian troops accomplishing in Afghanistan? The Taliban is stronger than it's been since 2001. The trade in opium is more vibrant than ever. Violence is up, political stability is down, and basic services are sporadic at best (and only if you live in Kabul).

From a newspeak, war is peace sort of perspective, things are going just fine.
September 04, 2006

And Now, Your Moment of Reason

One of my favorite Authors:
"Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?" - Arthur C. Clarke, Author of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Yeah Art, it is. Killing someone in the name of an imaginary deity, whom you invented because you're afraid of dying, is insane.

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War!....What's It Good For?....More!....War!....Wha

Americans are having a hard time believing that the Iraq war is a nightmare.

According to a CBS New/NY Times poll taken two weeks ago, 32% of Americans believe the Iraq war is going well, and 5% believe it's going very well (I guess five percent of the US population are vampires), and a mind boggling 43% believe that the US did the right thing invading Iraq. 43 percent of the adult population in the USA believe that the right thing to do was to invade a country and destroy it, just for the hell of it, because no one at this point can claim there has been a coherent and consistently justifiable reason for this war. The big three: Saddam involved in 9/11, WoMD, and The Unclesam-o-liscious Democracy Constructor Set have all proven to be false.

At the same time, never has there been more news about just how horrifyingly bad it is going in Iraq. On FOX news even, you hear occasional mention of the chaos and inhumanity and absurdity happening on a daily basis. But I believe that, at least in mainstream, corporate controlled media, the situation is being framed in a way that downplays the full responsibility that the US should bear for the horror show and reinforces the manufactured notions of Iraq's (and the people of the middle east in general) inability to govern itself and the perceived intrinsic tendencies toward violence contained within the souls of middle easterners; that they're a violent, chaotic people who will slaughter themselves and others at the drop of a hat. And that frightens Mr. or Ms. 43%.

The favorite tool of war mongers is fear. A frightened populace will overlook or forgive actions by their government that, under conditions without fear, would cause outrage. Mr. and Ms. 43% watch TV and listen to the politiclones endlessly and confidently interpret the powerful images and video footage of the hell Iraq has become, and perhaps conclude that these people need to be destroyed in order to ensure the safety of the rest of the world.

In other words, the tragedy and chaos in Iraq, rather than dissuading them, strengthens their belief that their government is doing the right thing. And this, of course, plays right into the war mongers plans; cultivate fear and confusion to justify endless war.

When major media outlets are owned by the same companies that manufacture the tools of war, and when the most powerful politicians are little more than mouthpieces for the same corporations, when most people are struggling to make ends meet while working for these same corporations, can you blame the 43% for their confused fear?

Now...read this and imagine the same people and systems in power 20 years into the future. How confused and afraid will our children be?

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September 02, 2006

Death Is Good Business

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has conducted a study which shows that nicotine levels in most cigarette brands has risen an average of 10% in the last 10 years. With the sharpest increases in nicotine levels appearing in brands which are marketed towards young people (who may be more susceptible to severe addiction than fully developed adults) and (surprise!) minorities.

Nicotine is what makes cigarettes addictive, (some say as addictive as heroin) so more nicotine means more addictive. More addictive means more customers means more death means more profit. More on addiction...

And how is government dealing with this situation? One would think that the logical thing to do would be punish the dealers of death and disease. Maybe hold the cigarette manufacturers liable for the gargantuan strain on public health they are responsible for? Maybe, oh I dunno, make them stop?

Well, no. They seem to be free to carry on as they have been, while their victims - smokers - are punished. As the habit of smoking becomes ever more difficult to stop (more nicotine = more addictive), smokers are punished more and more with ever higher taxes on cigarette sales, which affects the poor disproportionately.

While the CEO's sit back and watch their bank accounts get fatter with every new victim while paying less and less in taxes, minorities, youth, the poor and you are left to pick up the tab and pay for the consequences.

In Canada, we are constantly bombarded with stories of how the universal healthcare system is in jeopardy, and how the only solution is to introduce some sort of half-privatized two tiered system. This is madness when you consider the facts. Could it be that all we need to do is outlaw the addition of nicotine and other chemicals to cigarettes (of which there are many)? Give the victims a fighting chance to quit, and make it less likely that a kid having a smoke for the first time will become addicted, and I'll bet that public health becomes a much smaller and drastically cheaper industry than it is now.

One More Reason to Blow Up McDonald's

As if the rise in obesity and it's consequent health problems wasn't alarming enough, we have this report from Dr. Daniel Driscoll, a professor of pediatric genetics at the University of Florida:
"We're postulating that early-onset morbid obesity and these metabolic, biochemical problems can also lead to cognitive impairment..."

In other words, if you're a fatty when you're a child, you'll be dumber as an adult.

Studying three control groups; 18 children under four who were at least 150% of their ideal body weight; 19 children and adults that had Prader-Willi syndrome (a terrifying genetic disorder that causes one to eat non-stop until morbidly obese), and 24 normal weight kids; he found that:
Children and teens who were obese as toddlers for no known genetic reason fared almost as poorly on IQ tests (average score of 78) as people with Prader-Willi (average score of 63). "It was surprising to find that they had an average IQ score of 78, whereas their control siblings were 106," Driscoll said.

78 to 106? That's not a minor difference. We're talking the difference between someone who might be able to finish elementary school and someone who might be able to complete a college degree. Or the difference between someone who may be able to think and reason for themselves and one who most likely can't.

The future George Bushes, Stephen Harpers, and Tony Blairs of the world are waiting with bated breath.

Also, it seems as though racism rears it's ugly head once again, with Black, Hispanic and Native American children being more likely to be obese (a connection between socio-economic demographics and nutrition - the poorer you are, the less likely your diet is sufficiently nutritious). In the not too distant future (according to this information), approximately 20% of the Adult North American population will be borderline mentally retarded. Not because of genetics or anything intrinsic, or even from pollution or contamination, but as a direct result of the corporatization of the world's food supply and the prevalence of processed 'food'.

And Now, Your Moment of Reason

Today we hear from a Scotsman:
"The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one."
- David Hume, Scottish philosopher and historian (1711-1776)

In order to believe in Christianity, one must also believe in magic. One must believe that Jesus, who taught love, peace, humility, charity, and forgiveness was also some sort of wizard who, when faced with a problem, resorted to magic to solve it and impress people.

It's like believing that DaVinci's genius was simply received instruction from aliens, and he was really only any good at drawing.

And they were probably gay aliens at that.

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September 01, 2006

Ridiculous? How About Absurd

And to support my previous post, I give you this video clip of a Republican 'debating' a Democrat on FOX news. The host, a rude, confrontational twit, a politiclone with an agenda, practically jumps out of his seat in his efforts to frame the debate, to control the flow of ideas, and both guests eagerly play along. The last part, about Amnesty International calling Guantanamo a gulag, is exactly what I'm talking about, and neither the democrat nor the republican will - or is allowed to - examine this clearly and honestly.

"The Whole Government Has Become Ridiculous"

Words spoken by a member of the government that is ridiculous. Howard Dean, Chair of the Democratic National committee, uttered this on the Keith Olbermann show. Of course, he was referring to the Bush Administration and their obvious ridiculousness but his comment applies to him, and the entire political system in the US.

What is ridiculous is that two political parties can accurately reflect the diverse opinions, cultures and values of 300 million people. Think about it. Think how narrowly the debates must be framed, how the issues need to be defined by power in order for this to work. In terms of debate, if it's not an official talking point of either party then the issue is not raised.

Two parties, both comprised of the same classmates from college days (Bush & Kerry, both members of Skull & Bones at Yale) taught the same things by the same professors, both of whom raise campaign funds the same way, both of whom deal with lobbyists the same way, both of whom require you to be wealthy before you can even consider running for office, and both are deep in the pockets of defense contractors, corporations and wealthy individuals.

I like Howard Dean. He seems to be sincere and passionate about what he believes, doesn't look to be a war monger (although would probably have no choice but to be) and he most definitely would have been a better choice than Kerry for the 2004 election. But the disingenuousness remains. He's a political veteran and certainly knows how the system works and so must be aware that the system doesn't work, that the majority - the vast majority of Americans have no voice in the government that is theirs, that should be them, unless they can scrape some cash together.

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