Ink & Paper

Saturday, September 17, 2005


A car bomb explosion at a market near Baghdad has killed at least 30 people and wounded many others.

The blast occurred in Nahrawan - a poor, mainly Shia town on the eastern outskirts of the Iraqi capital.

More than 200 people, mostly Shia Muslims, have been killed in an upsurge of violence over the past four days.

The militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has reportedly called for war against Shias ahead of next month's referendum on a new Iraqi constitution.

Sunni groups have rejected the document, which is supported by Shias and Kurds.

....Iraqi security forces are on high alert as thousands of Shia pilgrims converge on Karbala, south of the capital, for a religious festival due to start on Monday.

Expect that this upcoming religious festival will be a bloodbath. Iraq is essentialy embroiled in a civil war right now, with the minority Sunnis waging a very effective "hit and run" series of attacks on the Shia population.

Just think about how little you have heard regarding Iraq in the time since Katrina hit. It is amazing to me how quickly the focus can shift, especially when a disaster hits close to home.

Blegh. This blog is getting repetitive. Blah blah blah, Iraq, blah blah blah, bush. Enough.

The house possession date has been bumped back to Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, as we wait for Land Titles to get their act together and for the lawyers to cross the i's and dot the t's.

I bemoan the state of this world, where a gentleman's word is as empty as Britney Spears's womb.

Hugo Chavez, I like this guy. He's a nut, but I like the fact that he is as blunt as a baseball bat.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken on the mantle of the bad boy of U.N. summitry, winning plaudits from Third World envoys for bashing the United States, and rattling U.N. officials by questioning the legitimacy of this week's summit of world leaders.

Chavez generated the loudest burst of applause for a world leader at the summit with his unbridled attack on what he characterized as American militarism and capitalism. He even offered a proposal to move the United Nations to Jerusalem or a city in the developing world.

Chavez, passing the five-minute limit for speakers, grew irritated when a U.N. official slipped him a note requesting that he wrap it up. Turning toward the president of the General Assembly, Jan Eliasson of Sweden, he said: "I think the president of the United States spoke for twenty minutes here yesterday. I would ask your indulgence to let me finish my statement."

U.N. experts and foreign envoys said Chavez, like Castro, was able to capitalize on a reservoir of resentment of American power in the world body. "Obviously people are pleased with what he said, but they cannot express themselves as frankly as he does," said one Arab ambassador, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to offend the United States.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 12:10 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

I just watched bush's address to the nation regarding the Hurricane Katrina relief effort and have a few thoughts to share:

1. I believe it when I see it regarding a focus on minority business ownership initiatives.
2. Lots of words/phrases like "mission", "struggle", and my personal favorite "armies of compassion."
3. Echoes of FDR's "New Deal" (1930s) but again, I'll believe it when I see it.
4. Lots of heartstring-emotional promises, calling upon the sentimental memories of New Orleans culture.
5. A real focus on the use of NGO's like Red Cross, Salvation Army, and "church groups", leaving me to think that the burden of this recovery effort may come from generosity, not government.
6. Mentioned the "rebuilding" of New Orleans, which is an emotional issue, even though the toxicity levels in the affected areas may make them prone to mold etc for years to come.
7. Scarily, a comment about how the federal government and the military need to be able to take command of such situations. Might not sound like a bad idea now, but I'm paranoid and am thinking of precedent issues down the road.
7. Lastly, a lot of talk about new programs, reduced bureaucracy, and easy loans for evacuees. Again, I'll believe it when I see it.

His approval polls will go up as a result of this speech.


A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:35 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oh yeah, that Iraq-thing. Almost forgot about it while watching Oprah talk about how Martha Stewart was back on TV and better than ever. Oh and Survivor is back too. Yeah!

More than 150 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a series of bomb attacks and shootings across Iraq.

In the worst incident, at least 112 people were killed and some 160 injured when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's mainly Shia district of Kadhimiya.

During the night, gunmen killed 17 men in the nearby town of Taji after dragging them from their homes.

In a separate development the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, purportedly declared "war against Shias in all of Iraq" in an audio tape released on the internet.

And from the
hypocrisy section of today's news....

Tony Blair has said the UN must take a lead in promoting democracy and fighting terrorism.

The UN is meeting in an effort to find consensus on moves to reform the body, as well as tackling poverty.

"The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons will never be halted outside of an international consensus to do so.

"There is not and never can be any justification, any excuse, any cause that accepts the random slaughter of the innocent. Wherever it happens, whoever is responsible we stand united in condemnation."

But he said it was now recognized that states' sovereignty could be overridden by the UN when people were suffering.

Need I remind loyal bloggies that it was the British standing next to the USA in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq?

Need I remind you that the UN arms inspectors were essentially rushed/pressured to leave Iraq before their search for WMD turned up nothing?

Need I remind you that the US and British-led invasion of Iraq was given the go-ahead without the approval of the UN?

Need I remind you that while the people of Darfur are going through a genocide as I type, the world's leading countries have failed to act to override Sudan's sovereignty in order to prevent the 'slaughter of innocents?' Rwanda was supposed to be 'never again.' But then again, Sudan does have a lot of oil.....

Nee I point out that the shitshow that is Iraq has led to nothing less than the creation of a terrorist breeding ground and haven?

Need I remind you that the 'slaughter of innocents' in Iraq is because of the invasion and its aftermath?

Are the people of Iraq suffering? Yes. Should their sovereignty be overidden? Do they have any sovereignty left to override and thus save them from the the Coalition of the Willing? Do we really care that much?

Oxfam reports...

Yet, contrary to their responsibilities and legal obligations, the G8 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA - are still supplying weapons and munitions to irresponsible end users. Six of the eight G8 countries are among the top 10 largest global arms exporters, and all of the eight export large amounts of major conventional weapons or small arms.

Arms deliveries were worth some US$28.7 billion worldwide in 2003...

Arms Control notes...

Weapons deliveries to the developing world in 1999 amounted to $22.6 billion. For the eighth straight year, the United States led all suppliers, accounting for half of the transfer total. U.S. allies Britain and France tallied $3.9 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, to rank second and third.

So tell me Mr. Blair, if it is fair for you to criticize the UN for it's "failure" to bring together a consensus on the elimination of all arms proliferation when your country is consistently in the top five when it comes to world arms sales?

UN is down right now. They, including Kofi Annan, are embroiled in the Oil-for-Food scandal and are facing their 60th anniversary with a profound lack of relevance in today's world, eerily similar to the irrelevancy faced by the League of Nations (the UN predecessor) prior to WW2.

This irrelevancy is in part brought directly about by the recent ability of member states, including the US and the UK, to ignore UN mandates and procedures if it serves their imperialistic/capitalistic goals. It is hard to enforce the directives of the UN when the two heavy hitters only play fair when it serves their needs.

So for Blair to attack the UN, accuse it of not doing enough to combat terrorism and promote democracy, stretches to the heights of hypocrisy. The UN is in numerous countries in Africa, serving as the thin blue line in order to prevent more lawless states like Somalia from flourishing into terrorist havens.

The UN is actively involved in the monitoring of numerous elections to ensure that they follow democratic principles. The UN is a leader in the treatment and support of people with AIDS/HIV, thus contributing a stable hand in countries that are being ravaged by the disease. The UN is looking out for human rights on a daily basis. Hell, the UN led the way with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ....adopted by the General Assembly in 1948.

The UN is far from perfect. One only has to look back at the failures in Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s for ample proof of that. But we need to ask ourselves if the world would be better off without a governing moral debate club, instead being led by such luminaries as the USA, France, and the UK whose annual military sales are worth more than the GDP of some of the developing countries they are selling to.

The UN is at a crossroads, and indeed could be in danger of imploding. It has been weakened in the past few years and is continually attacked by countries that are supposed to be its cornerstones. It remains to be seen if it will have any power left in the years to come, especially if the people who are supposed to be watching its back are instead kicking the UN when it is down.

PS- A friend is about to leave for Africa to do some development work, a truly noble (and dangerous,
Sierra Leone) task. And a thought crossed my mind today as I was thinking about this.

We live in a world where the majority of the people, be they black, white, or blue, want nothing more than peace and prosperity. We live in a world where ordinary people take risks, time, and money to help out with causes bigger than themselves. These people do so not out of any sense of glory for the task they are doing, but because the task is the morally right thing to do, even if it may endanger their own being. By and large, people are willing to help the less fortunate, perhaps more so now than ever, as information has given rise to new causes and organizations.

Why then do we tolerate such evil (to be frank) dealings done by our governments in our names? How can we hope to improve a situation like Sierra Leone, recovering from years of civil war and facing a generation of yet-to-be-rehabilitated child soldiers when it is our very own governments that helped provide the weaponry for the child soldier and are continuing to do so in other ongoing conflicts?

There are two hands holding a rope in this world and they are pulling in opposite directions.

Be safe Marjorie. Your cause is noble.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 10:44 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Edmonton SPCA and Humane Society (with $15,000 of help from city council) is sending a team of 12-15 personnel to help recover and rehabilitate the thousands of animals that were left behind in New Orleans.

We have just started approaching local businesses for donations of supplies. We are thrilled that Shopper’s Drug Mart at 38 Street and 118 Avenue has agreed to donate a flat of drinking water and other supplies for our team.

We are appealing to other businesses and to the public for donations of money or supplies. Please see attached list for details. Donations can be dropped off at the shelter until Friday at Noon, and donors must specify the donations are to be used for Hurricane Katrina relief.

They need the following:

-Hiking style backpacks
-2 man pop-up tents
-Lightweight sleeping bags, pillows
-First Aid kits
-Hiking boots
-Waterproof footwear
-Work gloves, waterproof gloves
-PFD’s (lifejackets)
-Hip waders with feet
-Reflective vests
-Hard hats
-Bottled water
-Ready to eat non perishable food items
-Insect repellent with DEET
-Hand sanitizer
-Wet wipes
-Vick’s Vap-o-Rub
-Flashlights and batteries
-Surgical gloves

If you are able and willing to donate, they are located at the south-west corner of Yellowhead Trail and 66 street in Edmonton. You can also donate cash through the Humane Society of the United States.

And yes, I'm stopping in tomorrow afternoon with a backpack and some hand sanitizer. But you knew I would.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:03 PM ~~ 1 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


With a grain of salt....

Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.

I haven't yet seen this reported elsewhere, but if there is any truth to this, wow.... I'll keep me eyes peeled.

*Edit: More coverage here. And here.

I did a search on CNN and couldn't find anything on it. This BBC article hints but doesn't say for sure what the deal is.

bush admitted that the federal response was inadequate and that he takes responsibility for it. This is remarkable because this administration never ever admits a mistake no matter how huge it is. The usual tactic is to scapegoat, but with approval ratings between 38-42% maybe Karl Rove is singing a new strategic tune: honesty.

As if.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 6:54 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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That is a lot of money for being in the intersection 0.3 seconds after the light turned red.

Oh well, such is life, there are far worse things.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 3:55 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Monday, September 12, 2005

Too little to begin with.

Mike Brown, the subject of blistering criticism after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and overwhelmed the government's response, quit Monday as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The White House moved quickly to replace him, installing a top agency official with three decades of firefighting experience as acting director.

Some of Brown's critics agreed with his decision, saying it would put the focus on efforts to manage the aftermath of the disaster, including helping the thousands of people left homeless.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House did not seek Brown's resignation.
"This was Mike Brown's decision and we respect his decision," McClellan said.

McClellan praised Brown's work but conspicuously left out any reference to his contribution to the Katrina efforts.

"The president appreciates Mike Brown's service," he said. "Mike has done a lot of great work on a number of hurricanes."

His resignation came three days after he was sent back to headquarters from the Gulf area, where he had been the government's disaster point-man. It also came a little more than a week after Bush, on his first on-the-ground visit to the region after the storm, said, "Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job."

The idea that "Brownie" offered his resignation without pressure from the White House to do so is laughable. What is even more laughable is the fact that McClellan and the White House have the audacity to:

1. Insist they had nothing to do with Brown's resignation
2. Praise his "great work on a number of hurricanes."

And the White House thinks that the public is this dumb?

Maybe after 9/11 the public, in a fever pitch of fear and patrotism, would have swallowed this shit. But, a-ha, that tipping point is getting closer.

This resignation, a mere week after being praised for doing a 'heckuva job' shows just how self-conscious this administration has become, how sensitive they are to the polls that are currently showing a 42% popularity rating for bush.

President Bush's overall job approval rating now stands at 42 percent, the lowest of his presidency and down three points since Hurricane Katrina savaged the Gulf Coast two weeks ago. Fifty-seven percent disapprove of Bush's performance, a double-digit increase since January.

I think, and it is merely my opinion, that this administration is finally starting to falter in the face of increasing disapproval ratings, something they have traditionally ignored on a public level.

Katrina is nature and it is hard to rally support for a war against nature. Terrorists, sure, that's cake, just blow the dust off of those communist speeches and grab the white-out. But nature, and especially an event that was being tracked by all the mainstream media for a week before the levees broke, well, it is hard to claim that you never saw it coming or that you can defend freedom by defeating it.

I think the tipping point is tantilizingly close, and it has not come so close because of the Democrats, who are still being nothing more than the dorky Grade 7 kid at the first junior high school dance of the year. Nervous. Useless.

The wave of anger is coming from the people and the media is finally come around to their original job, to critisize and comment on the governments actions. The internet, including left wing blogs, is contributing to the continous expose of the lies and ineptitude of the bush administration.

It may not end in impeachment, as that would require the Democrats to grow some balls and some Republicans to get on board. But if this dissatisfaction continues, we could see a Democrat elected in 08 just based on default. It is the best we can hope for and I think that the majority of thinking Americans are finally waking up to the necessity of critical thought and comment.

About time.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:11 PM ~~ 3 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Programming Announcement

Just a note that tonight's blog is slim to nil, as Jeff and I are going out to do wedding stuff.*

And over the next week and weeks to come, the blog may be sporadic, as Megan and I are moving into the new place and I'm not sure when Shaw is coming to hook up the interweb. So check back often, I'll post when I can.

Don't be sad, Megan should have most of the boxes unpacked by the last week of September, so I'll be able to post daily once again

Until then, feel free to use my blog as a links page to the BBC et al.


*Wedding stuff = Drinking at Franklin's and yelling at the horse races. Classy.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 5:27 PM ~~ 2 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


Sunday, September 11, 2005

An idea, a thought....

Anyone out there interested in starting, for lack of a better word, a communal blog?

Basically what I was thinking was that we would set up a general blog (I'll do it) and then everyone who wanted to be part of it would get the sign in info and password. This way you can drop in whenever and respond to co-writers opinions and thoughts, creating a discussion page for the topic du jour.

Then let the conversation begin. Politics, life, social issues, music, whatever. I figure that there are people out there that have something to say, but maybe don't want to manage a blog of their own.

I'll volunteer to set it up. If you are interested, leave a comment below this post and we'll take it from there. I think a minimum of 4 people would be a good start, but that's just a thought.

New post by Jan. Read it.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 9:24 PM ~~ 4 bonsai trees

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One of the best articles I have ever read. It is long, but....

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 7:22 PM ~~ 0 bonsai trees

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Remember & Ignore (The Value of Human Life)

Today is September 11, 2005, four years after the attacks on New York, where
2,749 people died, and on Washington. That these attacks were barbaric is a given and I agree. It was and remains a shocking day in modern history and has shaped the scope of international geopolitical issues for decades to come.

I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that four years have passed since 9/11. It boggles my mind to see where the world was four years and one day ago and compare it to
where the world is now. I have often come across the phrase "living in history" during my university career, a term that is meant to identify peoples who live through tumultuous times. A shopkeeper in Warsaw in 1939, for example. I doubt future history books will fail to use this term when describing the past four years and the years yet to come.

The years that have passed since 9/11 are so remarkably complex and intricate that the cataloguing and understanding of their impact on the world, from the small businessman in Kabul to the powers of international politics, is an immense task, one that requires ongoing analysis in a number of unique yet parallel academic fields. It is a task that will never end.

2,749 dead in New York alone is a large number. People have gathered, flags have been lowered, and speeches have been read. Media and photographers document the tears and the painful memories that this fateful anniversary brings about in America.

There was a study released
almost one year ago that estimated that some 100,000 people, nearly all of them Iraqi civilians, have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003....

The question of the variable value of human life has received some, but perhaps not enough, attention in these past few years that have seen two wars and untold billions spent in retaliation for 9/11. Indeed, it was US General Tommy Franks who is
quoted as saying "We don't do body counts," when asked about the number of dead Iraqi civilians along the road to freedom.

100,000 people dead as a result of the Iraqi invasion is a lot. It is one and a quarter times the amount of people currently living in Strathcona County, where I grew up. It seems like a lot of dead people, doesn't it? The estimated (and still increasing, natch) cost of war in Iraq is sitting at almost
$194 billion US.

We all know that innocent people are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan (Afghani-who?).
The majority of Americans probably have an inkling of it too. And yet, we stop our lives to remember 2,794. Why do we not do the same for the 100,000 that have died since?

I don't mean to belittle the 2,794 victims of New York's 9/11. They did not deserve death and I know that their families have struggled and will continue to struggle to come to terms with the repercussions of that fateful day.

But does the death of 3,000 Americans justify the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis?

Does the death of 3,000 Americans justify the death of one innocent Iraqi civilian? A child perhaps?

I do think that the attacks of 9/11 required a military response. That may surprise some of you. It surprised me. But let me be clear. When I say a 'military response' I envision a quick and clean operation against those people solely responsible for the attacks.

That number, the number of people solely involved in the planning and execution of the 9/11 attacks, is remarkably small. Perhaps less than 100. By all means, these people ought to be hunted down and shot like the dogs they are.

But that didn't happen. The most technologically advanced military in the world has yet to find a man hiding in a cave. And a state of perpetual war has been trumpeted as the solution and as a result 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died.

Does this seem justifiable to anyone? Honestly?

We do assign value to almost everything. My Ford is not a Ferrari, my mutt isn't a purebred. We take on possessions and assign them varying degrees of value within our own home, and then proceed to rate such acquisitions against our neighbours. We have been doing this since the time of the cavemen, when Oog had a bigger cave than his buddy Ung.

But the saddest thing, is that since the time of the cavemen, we have yet to rise above the idea that certain people, certain races, certain colors of skin, are somehow less worthy than others. It was a mere 150 years ago that a black man was a slave in the US, deemed property. Expendable, to some extent. Certainly not worth as much as a white landowner.

And now, despite all of our advancements in the past 150 years, we have merely shifted the blatant racism over the seas and far away, out of sight and apparently out of mind for some.

I have grown tired of talking about Kuwait. But if there is one thing that I will always talk about when the topic of Kuwait comes up, it will be the enormous gap I witnessed between the Kuwaiti people and the poor Pakistanis, the poor Indians, the underclass of labourers. The value of a man was not determined by how hard he worked, but instead by his nationality and skin color. Perhaps it is as close as I will get to seeing the overt racism of years past between blacks and whites in the US. To see a man struck without consequence because he is considered "lesser" was perhaps one of the harder things I have witnessed.

For such a thing to happen in Canada, or even in parts of the USA that still struggle with race relations, is beyond what we would consider normal in our society. I would be sickened to see an black man struck by a white man on a Canadian street if it was based upon the idea of racial superiority. I was sickened when I witnessed an act similar to this in Kuwait.

But as the war on terror has progressed, we in the West have assigned value to the Iraqi civilians. Be it through the US governments refusal to do body counts, or our passive acceptance of "collateral damage," the majority of us have tolerated (so far) the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians as "regrettable."

There is and never will be a monument or plaque dedicated to the dead Iraqi family, to the boy who went out for milk and walked into a firefight. Yet there are memorials for the four Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan, and there are memorials for the victims of 9/11. There are memorials for so many of our fellow westerners who have died during and since 9/11. And there should be, as most were good people just trying to get through these crazy times.

There are tributes to the victims of 9/11 and the subsequent war of terror.

Some of them, anyway.

A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at 8:47 AM ~~ 4 bonsai trees

shout out out out out out


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