Ink & Paper

Friday, July 08, 2005

I found an excellent article about Karl Rove and his involvement in the leaking of a CIA operatives name and why the mass media is ignoring what could be the biggest scandal the bush administration has ever seen.

Read it.

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An excellent post by Matthew Good.

I also think that you should read this.


Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said there is no evidence the attacks on London were carried out because of the UK's role in the Iraq war.

He said the bombers wanted to destroy the "very essence of our society".

Mr Clarke said: "There is no evidence [it] had anything to do with the Iraq war... of course it may have done and we'll have to see."

Anti-war MP George Galloway has said Londoners "had paid the price" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr Clarke told the BBC that any conflicts or wars could increase tensions, but said those tensions could exist anyway.

He said: "The fact is that the people who make these kind of attacks are about destroying the very essence of our society: our democracy, our media, our multicultural society and so on.

"That's not about Iraq or any other particular foreign policy issue, it's about a fundamentalist attack on the way we live our lives."

When Megan and I were in London this past January we rode the Underground all the time. In fact, the Russell Square and King's Cross stations were a daily stop or transit as we wandered about London, trying not to get lost or lose each other. I remember being astounded, in my small town western Canada way, at the sheer number of people that poured in and out of the Underground, and how it all seemed so orderly despite the numbers. I am sure I crushed Megan's hand, trying not lose her. The bombings of yesterday caused us to look at each other somewhat differently.

In a previous post, Beth made a couple of very good points via the comments about how the world grinds to a halt when a 1st world city like NY, London, Madrid gets hit by bombs, but manages to spin on relatively unencumbered when 100 people die in a car bombing in Iraq. You should read her comments, they are eloquent and well-put. They got me thinking.

I went for a walk yesterday, me and Monday. I was pretty lost in thought and Monday was more interested in the hundreds of butterflies than anything else. I just walked and walked, wondering about a world that will take the 9/11, the Madrid, the London tragedies and twist them into something so unrecognizable that it almost becomes a cartoon after a few years.

And I wondered what was going to be the end result of this war on terror. I wondered about the idea of murder in the name of a flag, a religion, a trumped-up cause. And I know that right now, in London, there are people mourning their lost ones and who, at this point, don't give a shit about any kind of reason for the attacks, who are simply lost in the sadness. The same thing could be said for Iraq but isn't.

I don't want it to seem that I am unsympathetic to London, as that could not be more incorrect. London is a city that will always hold a special place in my heart, for reasons most of you know. What I am unsympathetic towards is the hypocrisy (as the Glorious Mr. T put it) that abounds in our society, a society that will not blink an eye about an atrocity so long as that atrocity is over the hills and far away. Darfur, Iraq. Afgani-who?

I want you to remember that while London families are mourning their lost ones and the Queen is making plans to visit the hospitals, there are families in Iraq and Afghanistan that have also been torn apart by senseless bombings, bombings motivated by flag or religion. Do they suffer any less, or are they any less deserving of the heartfelt sympathies that we are sending to Britain? Oh course not, we say. We say so many things.

This isn't new, this caste system of human worth. Humanity has been doing this for centuries, from the slave ships that sailed to America, to the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s and 1940s, to the subjucation of the First Nation peoples in North America and Australia, to the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian peoples, to the lack of news coverage when a line of potential Iraqi police recruits are blown to bits by a car bomb. We draw lines and set orders. It is perhaps our greatest fault.

And when MPs claim that these attacks, or the attacks that we will see in the future, have nothing to do with the foreign policies of the affected countries, then I truly wonder if our leaders even care about making this world a better place. I think that there is certainly something rotten at the core of what we think is the pinnacle of society.

When I came home from my walk, a walk that saw me tromping through long prairie grasses and past trees in full bloom, I came back to a thought that seems to haunt me far too often. How will we be written up in the history books of the future?

Everyone seems so concerned about their personal reputations nowadays, but no one seems to care one bit about what future generations will learn about us. We are so glib with history, judging and rating events from the past, claiming the people of the past centuries to be "not as developed" as us, thus excusing their actions. It may be true.

Often people in the past were only doing what they thought was best. The education levels weren't nearly as high, the society openly approved of racism and 'inferior races'. Information was not available at the touch of a mouse and long term academic studies weren't around to shed light on one issue or another. The people of my history books have some excuse for some of their actions.

But what excuse do we have for our future generations? We have information, more now than ever before. I am often overwhelmed by the amount of information I absorb as I take in various newscasts and websites.

We claim that racism is bad, but barely blink an eye when someone with brown skin in a faraway country dies or is raped.

We claim that freedom of religion is a right, but we quietly tolerate the desecration of the Qu'ran.

We claim that torture is wrong, but turn a blind eye when US-trained Iraqi police kneecap a prisoner with an electric drill.

We claim to value children, but still have child jockeys.

We claim to value justice, yet we all know about rendition.

We know, yet we turn a blind eye when it becomes too uncomfortable to watch.

I could go on and on but the simple fact remains that we play dumb when we know in our hearts that we are more informed, more educated, than ever before. How will we be written about? One word. Selfish.

Things need to change. While I have no doubt that things won't, I find it increasingly hard to feel good about western humanity. We are hypocrites. And I don't think anyone is comfortable with that truth.

I am no better, you'll see.

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The final death toll for the London bombs will be at least 50, the head of the Metropolitan Police says.

Sir Ian Blair said there were a number of bodies still in the Tube train at Russell Square but that the final figure was unlikely to top 100.

The blasts on three Tubes and a bus left 700 hurt, with 100 held overnight in hospital and 22 serious or critical.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said looking for potential bombers was like searching for "needles in haystacks".

Mr Clarke said a claim on the website of a previously unknown group, the Secret Organisation Group of al-Qaeda of Jihad Organisation in Europe, saying it was behind the blast, was being taken seriously.

Oh yea, and this happened too. Didn't ya hear about it?

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Times Online (UK)

THERE were nearly 3,200 terrorist attacks worldwide last year, the Bush Administration said yesterday, using a broader definition that increased fivefold the number of incidents that Washington had previously tallied for 2004.

In figures published in April, the US State Department said that there were 651 significant international terror incidents, with more than 9,000 victims.

But under the newer, less-stringent definition of terrorism, which counts domestic attacks without an international element, the National Counterterrorism Centre (NCTC) reported 3,192 attacks worldwide, with 28,433 people killed, wounded or kidnapped.

Iraq, with 866, had the most attacks against civilians and other non-combatants, according to the report. Under the April figures, Iraq was considered to have suffered 201 attacks in 2004.

The new tally included attacks on Iraqis by Iraqis, a category previously excluded because it was not considered international terrorism. But attacks against coalition forces were omitted, because soldiers are considered combatants. Insurgent attacks on Iraqi police, deemed non-combatants, were included.

The Bush Administration's terrorism figures have been the subject of repeated controversies. Last year the State Department withdrew its annual report on global terrorism after claiming that terrorism incidents had been declining for three years and that 190 cases reported in 2003 represented the lowest total since 1969.

American officials trumpeted the report as evidence that the US was winning the War on Terror. But the document was found to be full of errors, and officials acknowledged that it had vastly understated the number of attacks.

This year the State Department decided not to publish the terrorism figures in its annual report. It handed the responsibility to the new NCTC. John Brennan, its interim director, said that the methodology that produced the April statistics was so flawed that the numbers were unreliable.

For example, when Chechen rebels blew up two airliners over Russia in near- simultaneous attacks last year, only one attack was counted under the old system.

On board one aircraft were 46 Russians. The other had 43 Russians and one Israeli civilian, a foreign citizen. That allowed only the second attack to meet the criteria for international terrorism, which under the old system required terrorists to claim at least one citizen from another country among their victims.

According to the NCTC figures, America suffered only five terrorism incidents last year, which included an arson attack in Utah for which the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility. Mr Brennan said that the low number of attacks on US soil reflected the good job that the Bush Administration has done in protecting the US homeland. But he noted that many attacks overseas are aimed at American and Western interests. According to the report, only 19 per cent of terrorist incidents last year were attributable to Islamic extremists.

A quarter were recorded as secular or political attacks, but it said that the motives for 56 per cent remain unknown. Asked how the NCTC distinguishes between freedom fighters and terrorists, Mr Brennan said that the centre's database is not "black and white and perfect".

I can't help but read this article and think back to high school science and how we used to "cook our books" in order to get some reasonable results for whatever experiment we had messed up on.

I don't know if this means that the US is trying to justify the continued war on terror, as the increased numbers might be used to do so, or if this is a set of numbers that the State Department would want kept quiet, lest they appear to be losing this costly battle.

All I know is that I don't know very much that is truly true.

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I don't have too much to say about the London bombings that isn't said one way or the other further down this blog. Londoners have a stiff-upper lip resolve, brought on by the survival of World War II bombings and IRA activities. They will cope, as many in Madrid and New York had to do.

I guess my biggest fear is that despite all these bombings, the only answer seemingly coming forward is to respond with more violence. The leaders get in front of the cameras and say how they are going to 'hunt down the terrorists,' and all the other stump speech words that have become so meaningless over the past 4 years. But despite all the retaliatory violence on our behalf, attacks still happen. I wonder if this course of action we so often go down, this eye for and eye mentality that humanity has, is ever going to be overcome.

Why is this kind of thing happening? I mean, really, honestly, why? The deep rooted answers are not going to fit into a 3 minute news clip, so we the masses never really know much beyond the fact that evil is black and white is good. If so, then where does this story fit in?

British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city, a senior Israeli official said.

Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had planned to attend an economic conference in a hotel over the subway stop where one of the blasts occurred, and the warning prompted him to stay in his hotel room instead, government officials said.

I'm rambling, I know. I am just struggling to wrap my head around all the little things that add up to July 8, 2005 and just how we got to where we are. More importantly is where the world will go from here. We won't learn, we never do.

I don't like the news today but I'll watch it tomorrow.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Matt Good

But while we grieve for those lost and contemplate what will become of all of this, let us recognize our own glaring hypocrisy. The Western world is, of course, stunned that this has happened. A significant number of world leaders have already made statements condemning the attacks and asserting their support for the British people and government. So one has to ask the question - where is the outpouring of mass sympathy for the people of Iraq? This sort of thing happens on a daily basis in Iraq - thirty Iraqis can be slain by a car bomb and it often doesn't make the news. Where are the statements from world leaders? Where is the front page coverage of their deaths, of their loss, of their suffering? Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have lost their lives, not thirty or fifty or even three thousand. And yet their plight is largely ignored. Are they less human than the rest of us? Are their lives worth less? If we are to be stunned that Londoners can be murdered, why aren’t we as equally stunned that innocent people in Iraq have been killed by US bombing or insurgent suicide attacks?

Humanity knows no difference in worth. It’s time some of us learned that.

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London police are now confirming that at least 37 people were killed and 700 injured in a series of explosions that ripped through the city's transit system within minutes Thursday morning.

Scores of people suffered serious or critical injuries such as burns, amputations, chest and blast injuries from the three explosions that rocked the subway network.


Mr Blair said the terrorists claimed to act in the name of Islam but the vast majority of Muslims abhored such terrorism.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said he had joined with Muslim leaders in condemning the attacks during a visit to West Yorkshire.

Globe & Mail

There are no reports of Canadian casualties in Thursday's co-ordinated bomb attacks in London's underground, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister says, and the government knows of no specific threats to Canada's security.

A good friend of mine has a sister and brother-in-law that are living in London and his sister uses the affected tube stations to get to work. I got an email from my friend saying that everyone is ok and accounted for. It is all horrible to watch, even more so when someone you know may be affected. So while I am sickened by what has happened in London, I am enormously relieved at the same time.

I was also glad to see that Blair stated bluntly that the vast majority of Muslims do not support in any way the extremist ideology that may be (emphasis on 'may', as it is still unconfirmed) behind that attacks in London. It was a smart move by Blair, something that will help keep the fabric of London together as the multi-racial, multi-religious society deals with these actions.

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A group called The Secret Organisation of al-Qaida in Europe today said it carried out the series of blasts in London in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group's statement appeared on a website popular with Islamic militants, according to Elaph, a secular Arabic-language news website, and Der Spiegel magazine in Berlin, which both published the text on their sites.

The statement, which also threatened attacks against Italy and Denmark, said: "Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The authenticity of the message could not be immediately confirmed, but al-Qaida in Europe also claimed responsibility for the last major terror attack in Europe: a string of bombs that hit commuter trains in Madrid, Spain, in March 2004 that killed 191 people.

The group appeared to boast that it had spent some time planning the attack.

"We have repeatedly warned the British government and people. We have fulfilled our promise and carried out our blessed military raid in Britain after our Mujahideen exerted strenuous efforts over a long period of time to ensure the success of the raid," the website posting read.

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Police in London say at least 33 people were killed in a series of near-simultaneous explosions on three subway cars and one bus during Thursday morning's rush hour.

Police say at least 345 people are injured, including 45 people with serious or critical injuries such as burns, amputations, chest and blast injuries.

There are a number of fatalities from the bus explosion, but police couldn't confirm the number.

Foreign Affairs has set up a hotline for Canadians with strong reasons to believe their relatives might have been travelling in London transit this morning. They should have on hand the missing person's full name, date of birth and passport number before calling the toll-free hotline at 1-800-387-3124.

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Pictures of the bus that was blown up in London.

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From CBC...

Police in London say it's too early to tell how many people were killed after a series of near-simultaneous explosions in the city's public transit system during Thursday morning's rush hour.

Hospitals in the British capital have set up emergency treatment areas for the scores of injured people streaming in, many covered in soot and blood after explosions in the London Underground.

From BBC...

At least two people have been killed and scores injured after three blasts on the Underground network and another on a double-decker bus in London.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was "reasonably clear" there had been a series of terrorist attacks.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the morning rush-hour blasts occurred between Aldgate East and Liverpool Street tube stations; between Russell Square and King's Cross tube stations; at Edgware Road tube station; and on a bus at Tavistock Square.

Just a note that the tube stations that were hit were the main hubs, Kings Cross in particular. The first attack in the tube was at 850am local time, the peak of rush hour for Londoners. More to come as I will follow this.

CBC is reporting now on TV that up to 300 injured, possibly 40 dead.


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Omaha Bus Depot

I'm stretched out on a bus depot bench, one of hundreds in the Omaha bus depot. The bus depot is dumpy and drab, and it is in dire need of an update. The floor is a series of light brown bricks from the 1970s, providing a soothing contrast to the dark brick walls and the light brown ceiling tiles that I am staring at. The ceiling tiles have water stains and in a flash of creativity I begin to give myself a poor mans version of the Rorschach test. I lose interest in this quickly and resign myself to the idea of failing a yet another test.

The bus depot stinks of humanity and harsh cleaner. It is quiet here now, most people having recognized the errors in their lives that has led them to be sitting in this third-rate bus depot at 3:24am on a Monday morning. People sleep, as best they can, on the rows of chairs, or in one guys case, flat out on the floor in a distant darkened corner. I can't sleep, I'm too drunk and feeling sick.

My weathered eyes gaze at an old Coke machine, glowing a faded orange glow in the dimness of this bus depot. It could be 1976 for all this bus depot knows, I think to myself in one of those revelations that only happens when you've had too much to drink. I close my eyes and let my head spin.

I have a bus ticket in my left front trouser pocket. A ticket to Minnesota, the Twin Cities. It is home for me, for now, but I feel very little attachment to the state. It's a bloody cold place to be in this time of year, late January. I think to myself that January is not unlike how I will be feeling later today, a massive thumping headache to begin another long haul of a day, of a year. I suspect that a month ago, this bus depot was a fair bit busier. Peaks and valleys, such is the life of humans and bus depots.

I can't sleep, the spins are too violent. I stagger to a sitting position and stare balefully into the middle distance of nowhere. After a few minutes I lumber over to the bathroom and splash water on my face, attempting to wash away the night's booze. I wander to the cafe and grab a hot coffee, black. I dig through my pockets for some spare change, aware that my shirt is missing a button and wrinkled. The tail is untucked and I probably look like hell. I hand a couple of crushed dollar bills to the Hispanic lady working the till. She barely notices me, her eyes as distant as Minnesota. I consider giving her a hard time but decide not to. She has it bad enough working the night shift in a dump like this.

I take my coffee and slouch down at a Formica table that has been carved up by various travelers over the years. "John loves Mary, 1984 forever" the table tells me and I wonder if John and Mary are happy together eleven years on. I suspect not, but maybe this knife-etched dedication of love has held true over the years. I sip my coffee with drunken thoughts of teenage loves and high school parties that I never was invited to.

I looked at my high school grad book a few months ago, when we were dividing up the house. I was sitting in the basement surrounded by boxes of dusty trinkets that people like me hang onto. Needless things that get packed around and never unpacked, doomed to spend their life at the bottom of a damp cardboard box. I stumbled across the yearbook and flipped through it. It wasn't much, not anything special. Just some faces I had forgotten about and that had probably changed over the years. Some inside jokes that I couldn't remember anymore and hairdos that people would like to forget. Nothing that would set this apart from the million other yearbooks that people cart around for decades. I had put it back after a few minutes and forgotten about it.

But in one of life's little quirks, I had opened up the mailbox at my new apartment a few weeks later and found an invitation to my twentieth anniversary high school reunion. I had raised my eyebrows in a brief moment of surprise and torn the envelope open. The dates, the location, were the reason why I was in Omaha right now, sipping black coffee at 3:47am.

In a moment of weakness, I replied to the invitation, assuring the organizers that I would be there. No, I would not be bringing a guest, a decision that was somehow cathartic and depressing at the same time. I had booked a plane ticket that weekend and told my boss that I needed a couple of days off.

Onto the plane, my baggage nothing more than a shadow of doubt. I scanned the faces on the plane, half hoping to see a long forgotten familiar face. There were none and I had slept the entire flight, waking only to shake my head no when asked if I wanted something to eat.

I checked into my hotel room, a rather run down looking Motel 6. The room had a lovely view of a wrecking yard and I had closed the yellow smoke-stained blinds. I flipped through the channels but found little worth watching and simply left the TV on as background noise. The reunion was the next day, starting with a luncheon in our old high school gym. I crawled into bed, the TV still quietly murmuring.

I was expecting to sleep that night but instead had been kept awake by old memories and a busy mind. I had tossed until one in the morning and finally slipped into a fitful sleep, only to awake at six in the morning when the front desk delivered a wake up call to my room by mistake.

A shower, some breakfast at the hotel restaurant and then I had picked up my rental car. I had asked for the luxury model in a vain attempt to look successful. The bright orange BUDGET sticker on the back bumper kind of ruined that illusion though and I resigned myself to looking like a mild success instead of a complete one.

Driving down oddly changed familiar roads to the old high school I was suddenly struck with the fact that I was now 39 years old and carrying more than a small layer of fat around my waist. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw the wrinkles that etched my face, the bloodshot eyes, the red nose, and the wispy hair that was vainly trying to cover up my ever-improving forehead. I was middle aged and so were all the people I was about to pretend to still know. We were on that edge of the peak, knowing that no matter what we did, our youth was nothing more than a rose colored memory and that we were firmly in the clutches of easy listening music stations, minivans, and mortgages.

This reunion was going to be nothing but a rehashing of old memories, old legends. At best. At worst it was going to turn into a pissing contest of who had biggest house, the nicest house, the best stock options. Hell, I had asked for the luxury car model, I was no better.

I kept driving and went past the school with barely a glance. I had started to weep a little for some reason I can't explain. I had driven across the county line and ended up at an even seedier hotel, and I tucked myself into a dark corner of the wood-paneled bar, watching a college hockey game being played in a dark arena on a small, scratchy TV. I spent the night drinking beer and eating plates of nachos. I stumbled out of the bar at closing time and passed out in the back of my rental car.

I awoke the next afternoon with a pounding headache and no real sense of time. I had gone back into the hotel to wash up but had ended up at the same table, drinking and smoking and eating. I drank my headache away and realized in a drunks haze that I had missed my flight. I gave this only a fleeting thought, knowing that it was now Sunday afternoon and I needed to be back at work in Minnesota by tomorrow morning.

The bartender had told me the nearest bus depot was in Omaha. I would have known that had I been sober. I drove very carefully back into Omaha and dropped the car, which now smelled like stale smoke, off at the rental place. A clear-eyed girl of twenty or so had smiled at me as I handed her the keys but I knew that was just company policy.

I walked in the fading sunlight to the bus depot a couple of blocks away, leaving me winded. I was quietly told that the last bus to Minnesota had left two hours ago and the next one didn't leave until five in the morning the next day. Cursing my luck and my emerging headache, I had called my boss's work number, leaving a message saying that I wouldn't be in until Tuesday morning. I had offered no excuse, simply stated the fact. He would have his suspicions but I didn't care about the job enough to worry about my reputation, such as it was.

Another few hours in the bus depot bar had chased away my headache but left me staggeringly drunk. And now, a few hours before sunrise and my scheduled departure I was sitting in this dingy cafe, drinking bad coffee and wondering if all this money I had spent was worth finding out that I was too much of a failure to even show up at my high school reunion. I wondered what it had been like, at the reunion, wondering if anyone asked "Hey, where's Baley?" Probably not and I added this to my growing list of life's missed chances, regrets I would carry with me for a few years longer.

It was now 4:45am and I got up to get in line for the bus, sadly thinking how pathetic I was to have come all this way just to drink in forgettable bars and end up standing in line for a bus at a quarter to five on a Monday morning. How many middle-aged people ride buses nowadays? I grimly told myself that I was probably better off not knowing the answer.

I sat on the bus, near the back where I could smell the chemical toilet, and watched the fields of snow roll past. My mouth tasted like nachos and stale beer and I smelled like cigarettes. My shirt was rumpled and stained and I looked down to find that my fly was open. I had crumbs on my shirt and my eyes felt like they were coated with weak glue. My paunch hung out from me like a sack of flour. I leaned my head against the window, enjoying the coolness of it on my forehead.

I was on my way back home, whatever that was nowadays. I had a job to go to and people who knew my name, asked my permission for menial tasks. I had a small dark apartment, a few boxes of unopened memories. I had a drinking problem that I refused to acknowledge and a pack-a-day cigarette habit. I was riding a bus at half past five in the morning and hadn't changed my underwear in two days.

I watched the snow fields go by through the frosted glass of a one-way Greyhound. The snow looked lifeless and the fields looked empty. I could see the naked trees blowing in a cold eastern wind. I shifted my girth in the seat and closed my eyes. Try to sleep, I told myself, you've got a long journey ahead of you.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 5:49 AM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I've gotten a little tired of the old format. Nothing against X, who set it up for me about 2 years ago, but it was time for a change. So here you go, the new look. The commentary will be the same, full of rants and half-baked opinions. But now it looks different. So maybe that will make it better, who knows?

I may be fiddling with it for a while, so be patient. More to come.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 2:17 PM ~~ 5 bonsai trees

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BBC reports and Jay sighs...

Hours after a Nasa probe crashed into Comet Tempel 1, legal reverberations were felt in a Moscow court.

Judges in the tiny courtroom normally deal with matters much more mundane than space exploration.

But Judge Litvinenko opened hearings into a case which could see Nasa pay a local amateur astrologist millions of dollars in damages.

Writer Marina Bay claims that by slamming the probe into the comet, Nasa endangered the future of civilisation.

"Nobody has yet proven that this experiment was safe," says Ms Bay's lawyer Alexander Molokhov.

"This impact could have altered the orbit of the comet, so now there is a chance that the Tempel may well destroy the Earth some day!"

This claim was brushed aside by Nasa mission engineer Shadan Ardalan.

"The analogy is a mosquito hitting the front of an airliner in flight. The effect is negligible," Mr Ardalan told BBC News.

However, even if the comet stays at a safe distance from Earth, Ms Bay's own life, she thinks, will never be the same again.

An amateur astrologist, she believes that any variation in the orbit or the composition of the Tempel comet will certainly affect her own fate.

So Ms Marina's claims to be experiencing "a moral trauma" - which only a payment of $300m (252m euros; £170m) can put right.

This is roughly what Nasa has spent on the experiment so far.

Moscow representatives of the American space agency have ignored Monday's court hearing.

But, by Russian law, this will not prevent the judge from continuing with the case.

Marina Bay's legal team remain confident, and they are even looking for volunteers to join in on the claim.

"The impact changed the magnetic properties of the comet, and this could have affected mobile telephony here on Earth. If your phone went down this morning, ask yourself Why? and then get in touch with us," says Mr Molokhov.

So now it is up to the Moscow Presnya court to find an answer to this, truly universal, question.

The final decision is not likely to be announced for at least another month.

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Karla Homolka

Homolka was released from the Ste-Anne-des-Plaines minimum-security institution north of Montreal Monday afternoon.

In an interview conducted in French less than two hours after she left prison, Homolka told the CBC's French language service that she'll never forget what she did to French, Mahaffy and her own teenaged sister Tammy.

The families of Karla Homolka's victims will fight any relaxation in the rules governing her release from prison after serving a 12-year sentence, a lawyer representing them said Tuesday.

"They're feeling a real sense of injustice that Karla Homolka's free and their daughters never will be," said Tim Danson, who speaks for the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.

I watched the interview with Homolka last night (Monday) and read the subtitles because even though I didn't fail French 30, French 30 sure failed me when push comes to shove.

Anyway, I am not the least bit surprised to hear that the victims families are upset that Karla is out and free now. I don't think anyone who was in that closed courtroom, listening to what happened to their daughters, could ever feel that justice has been served. Subsequently, they are going to do whatever they can to make Karla feel imprisoned for the rest of her life.

I'm usually a pretty liberal guy, as loyal bloggies know. But when it comes to the grisly deaths of kids and teenagers, I am about as redneck as they come. The fact that she is out after cutting a deal with the prosecution in a mere 12 years is pretty messed up. Mind you, the tapes that show her as a willing accomplice, not an innocent bystander, did not come to light until after the verdicts had been read and the gavel hammered down.

But now that she is out, I and many other Canadians are pretty upset. While watching this interview last night, Megan commented that according to doctors, Karla is a sociopath. Me not being very smart, I asked Meg just exactly what a sociopath was. According to the Mind Sciences major, it is someone who among other things, can totally fake emotions when it serves a purpose. For example, when Karla got choked up during the interview, Meg the Brain says that's BS. Now I know that Meg can't dunk a basketball, but I am still going to take her word on this. Plus I looked it up on Wikipedia just to be sure that Megan wasn't messing with my monkey brain.

Karla mentioned that she wanted to fnd a job 'helping people', mentioning that she had been a member of a peer support team while inside prison. Now if I was an employer I am pretty sure that Karla would not be high on my list of potential employees, be it in social work or Wal Mart-styles of helping people. I think the chances of her finding work are slim, save for perhaps a janitorial job sweeping up factories from 11pm-4am every night. Then again, in today's day and age, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some tell all book or movie in a year or two.

Frankly, I think Karla ought to have been re-tried after it came to light that she was indeed a willing accomplice. I am not a lawyer, although I did play one on TV a few times. I'm pretty sure that Canadian law doesn't allow for this, and I know they can't make up new laws for every wacko that comes along. I am speaking from a strictly emotional point of view, one that comes out whenever a child is hurt and someone effectively gets away with it. 12 years is nothing, not when the parents of the murdered children will never go to a graduation, a wedding, or have grandkids.

Legally Homolka may have paid her dues, but socially and emotionally, I and more than a few other Canadians would like her to never have seen the light of day. I don't want Canada to be Texas, except in this case. I hope the media hounds her, follows her wherever she goes, whatever she does. I don't want her to have a quiet life. I want her to suffer.

Maybe I'm an ass for feeling like this, but so be it. I don't plan on changing my opinion.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

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Edit: Sorry for the messed up font size, I have been fighting with it for a while and now I am mad and pissed off. The hell with it.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

BBC reports...

World leaders are set to arrive in Scotland for this week's G8 summit.

The meeting will discuss a variety of topics including climate change, global trade, aid for Africa and debt relief.

Thousands of protesters will converge on Edinburgh and the summit venue at Gleneagles following a spate of violent clashes with police on Monday.

In connection with the above, the Guardian reports...

The United States is edging towards important concessions on climate change at this week's G8 summit, it has been revealed.

US President George Bush is now ready to concede that climate change has scientific basis, and that collective action is required over global warming. Until now, Mr Bush has adopted an intransigent position, insisting there is no scientific basis to conclude that there is such a phenomenon as global warming.

The move was signalled during last weekend's "sherpas" meeting at Lancaster House in London, where officials met to work on a draft agreement ahead of this week's summit in Gleneagles. One of the diplomats involved in the negotiations confirmed today that the US sherpa had moved and accepted a draft text in which the existence of the problem is recognised.

Mr Bush's stance will be underlined in an interview to be shown this evening on ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald. He will describe climate change as "a significant, long-term issue that we've got to deal with", acknowledging that human activity is "to some extent" to blame.

But Mr Bush will also warn that he will not make major concessions on climate change in return for Tony Blair's staunch support over Iraq. In particular, he will rule out committing the US to a Kyoto-style binding agreement on greenhouse gases.

Downing Street said that Mr Blair had never seen his relationship with the US president in terms of a "quid pro quo".

It is interesting that the bush administration is finally coming around to at least admitting that climate change isn't the witch science they have claimed it to be in the past. Often the US would inhibit progress under the guise of a purported need for more research. It seems now, albeit in a miniscule way, that the message is changing.

However, it is also interesting to see that Blair isn't willing to acknowledge that bush owes Britian and the Labour party a fair number of favours. Why? Well because without Blair standing beside bush, claiming that Iraq was a massive threat to world safety, bush's plan for a multi-nation assualt would not have had any credibility (that it had any credibility in the first place is a debate for another blog).

Basically, without Blair, it would have been the US surrounding itself with such countries as Poland. Nothing against Poland, but they don't count when it comes to selling the world on the credible need for an invasion. It's like putting Jeff on your bench press squad; once you show up at the competition, no one takes you seriously.

bush needed Blair, so it is interesting that bush is now saying this:

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, Tony Blair made decisions on what he thought was best for the people of Great Britain, and I made decisions on what I thought was best for Americans. And I really don't view our relationship as one of quid pro quo. I view our relationship as one of strong allies and friends working together for the common good.

I wonder if Blair is a little cheesed that he stood by bush, almost costing him his re-election this past May, only to have bush effectively say "Thanks for the support, chump" when Blair asks for climate change to be seriously addressed by the US at the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland.

The following not only re-illustrates bush's mangled grammar, but also how bush feels about the Kyoto agreement, which the US never signed. (Same link as above, recommeded read)

TONIGHT: Do you accept that climate change is man-made, sir?

PRESIDENT BUSH: To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, we're burning fossil fuel, as is a lot of other countries. You know, look, there was a debate over Kyoto, and I made the decision - as did a lot of other people in this country, by the way - that the Kyoto treaty didn't suit our needs. In other words, the Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can be blunt.

The Kyoto treaty, orginally concieved of in 1997, was repeatedly watered down in an effort to make it politically marketable. Even so, the US determined that it was too much of a threat to their economy. I don't know what kind of threat racking up a huge war deficit is to the US economy, but it must be far less worse that Kyoto. By not signing Kyoto and today indicating that they will not sign anything that resembles Kytoto, the richest country in the world is effectively making a point that they cannot afford to deal with climate change in an effective manner. What precedent does that set for developing countries that really and truly cannot afford to research alternative fuels? If the world superpower isn't interested, it becomes pretty hard to convince others that there is a legitimate benefit to signing on.

Anyway, I wonder if this is the beginning of bush stepping on the last friendly set of toes in Europe. I really wonder if bush is aware that ditching Blair, after having isolated Blair from the rest of Europe, is only going to serve to further damage bush's reputation in Europe, a relationship that truly needs mending. Neither of these two leaders has much political capital left to spend and thus it remains to be seen what steps each of them will take in order to begin the process of ensuring their respective legacies. Will it be climate change? Only the future history books know for sure.

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From the Mirror Online...

...Live 8's global call to end poverty in Africa was greeted by G8 leaders yesterday with the cynical sound of silence.

But once the music died, their mass demand for aid and justice seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

Tony Blair flew to Singapore to lobby for London's bid for the 2012 Olympic games, to be decided on Wednesday. No 10 stayed quiet.

Leaders of G8 nations Russia, France and Germany met in the Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad to discuss summit strategies. But Africa was not on the agenda.

Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder also failed to mention Live 8 or Africa in their press conference later.

Japanese leader Junichiro Koizumi, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and Canada's Paul Martin stayed mum.

Meanwhile President Bush insisted the US already "led the world" in helping Africa.

Astonishingly, he claimed America did not need to give any more to beating poverty as individuals were so generous at charity. Mr Bush has refused to meet the goal of raising aid to 0.7 per cent of America's gross income.

He said: "Aid is more than gifts from governments. It is also individual contributions. We contribute billions of dollars each year."

Mr Blair admits it is pointless asking Washington to move further.

In an interview with CNN last week, to be shown in the States last night, he said: "I haven't actually asked the US to get to 0.7 per cent.

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