Mentat: That class of Imperial citizens trained for supreme accomplishments of logic. "Human computers."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On a Roll

Well I just happened to read a disturbing article by Robert Fisk about the actions of the former Shah of Iran's intelligence (torture) agents SAVAK. He was musing on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution and the causes of this revolution.

I'll never forget how, a few years ago, western governments worshiped the infallible president of Uzbekistan. A strong ally and fighter of terrorists. I don't care to remember his name. The one thing I'll never forget though was his agents' favourite torture method: boiling victims alive. Can you imagine that one?

Well for a taste of one of the Shah's torture chambers, here's Robert Fisk interviewing a fellow reporter:

“There was a fishpond outside,” he told me. “There were vases of flowers in the front hall. But downstairs there were cells. In each of them was a steel bed with straps and beneath it two domestic cookers. There were lowering devices on the bedframes so the people strapped to them could be brought down on the flames. In another cell, I found a machine with a contraption which held a human arm beneath a knife and next to it was a metal sheath into which a human hand could be fitted. At one end was a bacon slicer. They had been shaving off hands.”

Dear Prime Minister

Oh what to do with this blog. I kind of want to retire it. Not that there aren't a million things to blog about every day but well it just doesn't feel natural like it used to.

Perhaps I'll just post letters that I write to the Prime Minister. I probably write a few times a month. I know that he loves to hear from me. Unfortunately when shit goes down CSIS or the RCMP will probably pay me a visit and that will be that. But for now I might as well enjoy my democratic right to challenge the government.

Not that they listen.


Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I'm writing today about the apparent banning from Canada of an elected and sitting British Member of Parliament from Canada. George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, I'm shocked to hear is considered by your government a threat to national security. Based on my reading of Section 34(1) of Canada's immigration act, I can see no grounds to ban him.

He is not coming to Canada to encourage violence. He is not being invited to tour the Ministry of Defense nor the headquarters of CSIS, so our state secrets are secure. Why therefore is his visit a threat to national security?

The answer is pathetically simple for all to see: he opposes the war in Afghanistan and plans to spell out his opposition to those Canadians who care to listen to him. Your government disagrees with him so he is labeled a threat to national security.

Prime Minister Harper I'm so terribly disappointed in your childish behaviour in regards to MP Galloway and especially that of Minister Kenney. The funny thing is that if you would have just let him in his publicity would have been minimal. Now more Canadians are exposed to these proceedings and, like me, are seeing the erosion of our democracy.

The United Kingdom like Canada is a democracy and I find it strange that Canada, that has inherited its democratic traditions from the Westminster model, should stoop to such transparent and pathetic actions. The banning of dissenting voices is hardly democratic behaviour and you should know better.

You're going to lose this one. Let him in.

(And last but not least, check out this article from CanWest which lays in to George Galloway and is very partisan but then again who isn't. I just don't think he compares to far-right politicians like Jean Marie Le Pen. And it's not like he was delivering guns to Hamas when he went to Gaza earlier this year. Giving food and blankets to terrorists makes you a terrorist apparently.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Damn Dirty Ape!

So I have to weigh in on this one. Some time ago, the NY Post printed a cartoon. Like most political cartoons it addressed what was happening in politics at the time. Makes sense. But this one has caused a lot of outrage and while I also am ashamed of this ad, it's for a much different reason. For starters here's the cartoon.

I am kind of confused by this cartoon. I guess it's trying to say that an ape wrote the US's current "economic stimulus" (have we had enough of these words) bill. That's a pretty wealthy ape or at least a very powerful ape.

I say good for him or her. Writing a complicated bill like that would be a chore for any of us. Why not give the job to an ape? Take affirmative action to a new level.

Maybe it's one of those super intelligent apes from NASA. Did you ever think of that?

But to add to my confusion I wondered: why would police or security guards shoot an ape for writing a stimulus bill on a street in broad daylight with lots of witnesses driving by? Was the bill that bad? Doesn't it stimulate you enough? Do the editors of the NY Post want people to go to the zoo and shoot apes? Maybe they should shoot the greedy (suicide?) or economists instead since they are the real problem.

But back to the uproar. People think this dead ape is a stand-in for Barack Obama. This is a bit of a stretch. First of all Barack Obama is a homo (wait for it) sapien. But apparently people of African descent are considered apes or monkeys by silly racist people.

(As a side note, in Europe if you have black football players on your national team almost every country will make monkey calls at them. Hey fat, lazy, drunk white guys! Those footballers could probably kick your balls out of the stadium! Get a life.)

And do people actually think Barack Obama wrote the bill himself? Clearly not. I think this is a case of reading into things too much. I'm sure the NY Post has apologized for any offense by now.

The funny thing is that his predecessor was often portrayed as an ape himself. I read the Guardian on occasion and have greatly enjoyed political cartoons by Steve Bell. Bell's Bush is terribly simian and funny. How is portraying Bush in this way acceptable and just drawing a picture of an ape, far from having Obama swinging from tree to tree on the White House lawn, racist?

Even if you don't believe in evolution like our friend Bush, we're all still descended from apes in Africa.

And that's the real problem. It's not that this is another example of racism (I'm not disputing that by the way), it's that apes are demeaned by this cartoon and our culture more generally. Apes are apes and humans are humans, trees are trees and bacteria are bacteria. There isn't a hierarchy of intelligence or feeling or any of that shit we've been taught since we were kids. If God told you that, then God is wrong. We are all equal, all creation, all species on this earth and we all have a right to be here.

Apes, far from stupid, are too smart to waste their time developing a global economy and huge, bloated governments let alone writing an economic stimulus bill. Life is straightforward for them. Eat, fuck, shit, die, repeat.

Homo sapiens like the editor of the NY Post, Barack Obama and the racist football fan could learn a lot from them and pretty much every single other being on this earth.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Magic Money

Isn't this all a bit surreal? Now the American government has passed another $800 billion stimulus package, great! Next the tax-dodging Treasury Secretary wants to spend $2.5 trillion on more stimulus by buying up all the bad debt that's out there. Where is this money coming from? From heaven? Is it from the God that watches over their country? How can their currency be worth anything anymore? Surely you can't just print money whenever you feel like it?

And if all this money could have been printed at any time why the fuck didn't they use it to support the millions of Americans who live in Doritos-Coca-Cola-Walmart-poverty. Hell, with all that money you could have built each and every one of them and the rest of the middle classes a mansion and given them a car with enough money left over for a healthy green salad.

Think about that figure again: $800 billion + $2.5 trillion = $3.3 trillion dollars.

And that doesn't include the $700 billion Bush dropped into the hands of the rich before he left office (unless, as I think, Obama's stimulus just replaces that one but with this corporate media it's impossible to know what's going on).

And I keep waiting for Americans to finally have enough. Enough of cancer, enough of being dominated by by a crooked and violent elite, enough of being told only what they are allowed to hear, enough of sending their sons and daughters to die in mad wars, enough of pretending there's a future for their children. But there's no action yet. Probably because everyone is working 70 hour weeks, but thankfully that dismal truth is about to change. When you're unemployed (or retired) you have a lot of time to think. And thinking makes you mad, when you realize that you're being fucked over. Then you start to hit the streets and wouldn't that Capitol building look a lot better as a smoking rubble? C'mon guys you're almost there. But really we don't get angry when enough of us are comfortable so we've got some way to go.

This system isn't working anymore. It's got to go. Happily we aren't going to have the choice. It's just going. Farewell!


But in other news, I'm quite amazed that Obama is proposing talking to Iran unlike the dismal performance of his predecessor. Well it's about time Americans elected a thoughtful person to their highest office. Imagine that: working out your differences by discussion and compromise. Wow!

And best of all and you might not have heard much about this, Obama is talking to Russia about scaling back their nuclear weapons stockpiles and those on hair-trigger alert. Unbelievable.

I still can see of target on his back with every progressive move he makes. But you've got to give him credit. At the end of the world, the last thing you want is anyone holding on to nuclear weapons. I'll take the stone-age, just keep the radiation away.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Journey

There wasn't any sunblock for the journey. Not that I worried much about sunblock anymore. When I was a child, we were always reminded to slather on that white, wet cream by parents, at school, at church if we ever went outside. Ever. I heard that at the worst of times, people drank their sunblock. Hard to believe. But then when your mouth is always dry, anything will quench your thirst.

You don't want to know what I've drunk on this trip. What I've eaten.

Did you ever see any of the Crocodile Dundee movies in the 1980s? People really loved those films. Seems a long time ago now. People loved Australia then. They loved the crocs, loved the koalas, the kangaroos. They wanted to come to our lonely beaches. To see the vastness of the oceans. Surf. The tourists stopped coming well into the drought, when bottled water seemed a ridiculous idea. Now even the animals are gone. It's too hot for most of them. No more eucalyptus leaves for the koalas; the leaves can't even take the heat. I guess the crocs might have gone out to sea since there's no more water on land. No rain, no water. They understood it pretty quickly. Took us a bit longer.

I used to live in Darwin, before the voyage. I'm pretty lucky I wasn't from Adelaide or Perth. Too far to travel. Not enough fuel. But Darwin is close enough to water. I'm not talking about the sea of course. All of Australia's cities are close to the sea. I'm talking about fresh water. The kind that falls from the sky and gives forests that smell. You know it, the smell of dampness. It's there waiting for me just across the ocean.

In survival guides that I read after university, I learned that you can go without food for weeks, but if you don't have fresh water you won't last more than a day or two. And in this heat, good luck. So I had to go.

When the power plant in Darwin stopped running, the air conditioners were already a distant memory. We were on rations and most of the power went to the desalinization plants and to pump that liquid salvation to all our homes. My parents had an orange tree which they managed to keep alive by giving it some of their water ration. Man cannot live on water alone, my father had joked.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that we in Darwin had it worse than in other parts of the country. In the centre of Australia, people just left or died. We were all on the coast by the end. And it still rained on occasion in Darwin. We're tropical. But when it rained it poured. We had no rain for weeks and then floods. But I'd rather have that than the slow burn of South Australia or New South Wales. At least then you can save water. When the power failed, God only knows what happened to those poor bastards.

I managed to save enough water for the journey. Filled up all my plastic bottles. Memories of better times. Squandered times. I set out by myself. I didn't have any brothers or sisters and my parents were dead along with their orange tree. They wouldn't have enjoyed the journey but I guess if they had wanted to survive they would have left with me. Maybe they wouldn't have been able to leave. Old habits die hard. But I had nothing to lose.

I could have stayed, I suppose, near Darwin. Played uncivilized. Gathered food, ate insects, learned to find water in the parched land. But that's not for me. I belong in a city with buzzing electrical wires and lights that shine day and night. Where you can get everything but have nothing. I can't live in a cave like bin Laden.

So to Indonesia. A generation ago it was a backyard Muslim country with nothing to offer us Australians but beaches and hashish. And we bullied them and got our way like spoiled children. We abused them and they were happy for our Australian dollars. It was an ideal relationship. Master and servant. White and brown.

Now it is my destination. Once they wanted to come here. For our human rights, for our economy, for our superiority. I bet the asylum seekers that made it and settled in Sydney and Melbourne regret it now. But white or brown, we all need water. Before the power went out, I heard about Indonesians being targeted in Sydney. Lots of blame to go around and few mirrors.

The journey was long and I'm not there yet. After trading water for a voyage by boat across the strait between Australia and Indonesia our boat was intercepted by the Indonesian Coast Guard. I didn't think they had one. Lots of extra soldiers on board. They must have been expecting us.

They were pretty harsh with all of us. Many of us were too weak from dehydration. We didn't put up much of a fight. They had fun with some of us. The exceptionally weak were pushed overboard. Lots of sharks to clean up the evidence. Not that the UN is going to order an investigation. They never did when we boarded Indonesian vessels enroute to Australia. Besides the UN has bigger problems. Some of us got off lucky with a few bruises or concussions. Some of the women were raped. No news there.

I lost a few teeth but managed to pick them up. Maybe if I make it to Indonesia, a dentist will put them back in. I heard that if you knock out a tooth you should keep your it on ice and see a dentist. The soldiers didn't understand my laughter and they just hit me harder.

But I'm still alive.

Human rights don't mean much anymore. They never really did unless you had the power. Australia used to have power. But we messed it up. Thought we were in charge of the climate. Thought we could save ourselves with an election and a few voluntary actions.

I think ever since the first prisoners were dumped on a beach that our fates were sealed. Australia was never meant for me or my family. I'm as white as a ghost. Does that sound like a good defense against the sun and heat? I guess my white skin reflects sunlight like polar ice. Until I turn pink. We were a people of sunblock. Without it, we were gone.

Now the soldiers are deciding what to do with the rest of us. All of a sudden one of them is pointing to something on the horizon and shouting. I don't dare look up over the rail. Maybe it's Bali. I've always wanted to see Bali. Mangoes, durian, rivers, waterfalls, beer. I can taste them all in my dry mouth, on my sandpaper tongue. A dream.

What are they looking at? What's coming? I wish I could stand up and see for myself.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Logs and Splinters

So I've been thinking that I should put myself in the place of the Israeli public and its leadership (as if we need leaders to tell us what to do). But clearly they are upset and upset enough to bomb and support bombing refugee camps when they know that there is no way to avoid civilian casualties; 1,000 Palestinians are now dead in the world's largest open air prison.

So what are they thinking? Well they want to stop rocket attacks against their country, at least that's what they say. You wouldn't really want to be going about your day and have a rocket land on your kids school or on your precious car. That would make you really afraid. Imagine that this might happen to your children and I'm sure you'd agree that something needs to be done. Really anything when it comes to safety.

The point I guess is that Israelis and their "leaders" view themselves as equal to the Palestinians much like an well-paid, educated, professional justifies his or her position in society as equal to the lowest, darkest (skin colour matters) person. You got their because you worked harder than other people and deserve it. So the Palestinians have the same life and goals as Israelis, it's just that they are trying to kill your children; some might even magnanimously suggest that only "extremists" are trying to kill their children. These people have no reason or rationality behind their murder, they are just evil.

This is clearly delusion. Gaza is nothing like Israel. Palestinians suffer immensely there, where Israelis', much like Canadians, great worries are car and mortgage payments. Clearly they are in a different league. Palestinians have clear goals: autonomy, democracy, rights including the right of return to their homes inside Israel and the ability to control their own destiny. Sound fair?

You might also want to compare the "armies" of Palestine and Israel. Israel has the strongest military in the Middle East with the most advanced technology including nuclear weapons and burning phosphorus bombs. Sure Hamas has rockets but they are crude compared to what Israel can launch into Gaza buildings.

But if you listen to Israelis and their politicians, you'd think that Hamas and Gaza contained a sophisticated, well-equipped military that threatens to wipe out the Israeli state and all Jews everywhere. Israel claims it is fighting a well-matched rival. Poppycock!

Fear is the only area that Hamas matches Israel. Hamas rockets inspire fear in Israelis much like Bin Laden's hijacked planes do in the US. But how much of this fear is whipped up by politicians to justify their costly and violent wars? Rockets kill very few people in the end. Fear is just fear. You're not likely going to be hijacked or have a rocket hit your house, but we all think we might so we'll authorize any action.

These realities inspired my last post promoting justice over peace. I have very little time for peace these days, which usually means a halt in hostilities and acceptance that one group has power over another group. Shut up and accept your fate. So in Canada, when First Nations people retire to their dismal reserves and don't ask tough questions or block rail lines and highways to push their occupiers, this is peace. There is no justice, just quiet while one group dominates another and the weaker group slowly fades into history--if they are recorded at all.

We need to talk about power and address it openly. There are never two equal sides in a conflict whether it's Israel and Palestine or the divorce of a well-paid husband and stay-at-home wife. Power matters and should be central to coming up with a just solution.

So in Palestine and Israel, Israel, the powerful party, should be expected to offer concessions to the weaker party in any negotiation. Currently, it's expected, by all of us including our "leaders", that the weaker party, the Palestinians should offer concessions first since their violence is overt and beamed around the world into our living rooms. That's the definition of injustice.


Also have you noticed that the UN agency that serves Palestine and Palestinians neglects to even mention their identity or their country's name in its . It's called the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This is actually really important. Names matter. If the Palestinians don't exist on paper then they don't exist. They are just Arabs and should go back to Jordan or Egypt where they came from. Then the genocide will be complete.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Israel is again bombarding Gaza. Hundreds have been killed. Four Israelis have been killed. Looks like the death equation which I've mentioned before is alive and well. Much like the currency exchange with its ups and downs, Israeli lives are much more valuable at the end of 2008. Currently it's looking like an exchange rate of 100 Palestinian lives for 1 Israeli life.

Wow! Let's all invest in Israel and their measured response. You get a great return. Except if you're Palestinian, then you never get to return.

The White House, sensing that logical and compassionate people the world over are recognizing this secret equation exists, made this dismal statement: “We want Israel to avoid civilian casualties. But let’s be careful about some of the numbers we’re seeing coming out of Gaza. But also, you know, what about the three people, I believe, I saw reported today that were killed in Israel by rockets? I’m not going to compare numbers between the two locations.”

But you just did, stupid fuck!

Israeli politicians continue to demand that their citizens in the south of their country be left in peace. However such stupid comments betray a disregard for a long and bloody history full of displacement and sadness. What of the Palestinians who used to live in the land these "settlers" now occupy? What of their lives in the world's biggest refugee camp? What will happen when Hamas wins elections again in the New Year?

Forget peace, we need justice in this world. Peace has had its day.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Evil Christmas Greetings

The full translation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Christmas message that will be broadcast on Channel 4 tonight:

"In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

"Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.

"The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself.

"He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every effort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.

"On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.

"All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.

"All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

"Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

"The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.

"If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

"If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

"If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.

"The solution to today's problems is a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets - they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.

"Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world.

"The response to these demands must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.

"Fortunately, today, as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future and hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.

"We believe Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of the revered Messenger of Islam and will lead the world to love, brotherhood and justice.

"The responsibility of all followers of Christ and Abrahamic faiths is to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age.

"I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.

"Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success and happiness."