Thursday, August 31, 2006
Warner's very presidential looking Avatar will be addressing the press and public at The Second Life New Globe Theater, a virtual version of the proposed New Globe Theater this afternoon Thursday, August 31, at 3:30pm ET that's 1:30 PM by mountain time which I'm on so I won't catch it.
This is interesting. Political process junkies should look at this closely, it has possibilities. It's also a lovely example of Marshall McLuhan's, 'The medium is the message.'
Monday, August 28, 2006
"I'm in favor of his bill, because no one should have the ability to make anyone do anything against their will," said blotchy irony deficient leadership no-hoper MLA Lyle Oberg, "Nobody should be able to litigate against people who choose not to do something." So logically this means he believes Marriage Commissioners, public servants appointed by the Alberta government, should be allowed to refuse to marry two people of different races or religions if it offends their personal beliefs?
To those already typing the inevitable outraged comments about how this isn't the same thing, it's exactly the same thing. The arguments against gay marriage are an almost identical replay of the arguments for making inter-racial marriage illegal not too many decades ago.
The same thing as a pharmacist who doesn't want to prescribe birth-control or Plan B pills because it offends his (because its always his, isn't it?) moral beliefs. In both cases we're talking about government licensed positions. If you don't want to sell legal medications, don't become a pharmacist, if you don't want to perform legal marriages don't become a marriage commissioner.
I'll point out here that I agree with the exception for churches. I agree that religious freedom trumps marriage rights here, plus being a priest or pastor isn't, and shouldn't be, a government licensed position.
''Critics of 208 should take a reality pill,'' said Ted Morton ''Same-sex marriage is not a basic human right. It's a social experiment, and I personally think it's a dangerous social experiment.''
Actually Ted, being allowed to marry the person you love is, in fact, a basic human right, and it's a legally protected one in Canada. Once again the Alberta government caters to the reactionary right, while Alberta tax-payers will pay for the inevitable, and inevitably losing charter battle - its particularly scary that even Ralph Klein realizes this.
I don't want to hear any more bullshit about sky-rocketing public health costs from politicians willingly wasting my money on this pandering hateful nonsense.
Will George W. Bush say nobody could have predicted it?
The American Society of Civil Engineers highlights here what the ideological obsession with making government as small and ineffectual as possible has led to, and makes you wonder if New Orleans will ever be re-built.
But you can't bring hair gel on an airplane, doesn't that make you feel safer?
Saturday, August 26, 2006
But Katrina's anniversary highlights that a year later people are still living in temporary shelters without power, huge districts of New Orleans are still in ruins and the conditions that caused the destruction in the first place haven't been fixed. Another storm would cause even worse destruction now with major chunks of wetlands completely gone.
There's a call for a blog swarm on Monday to draw attention to an anniversary that Bush would just like to ignore. Seems like a good idea to me.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Israel deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure and committed war crimes during the month-long conflict in Lebanon, according to an Amnesty International report.The Guardian piece quoting the report goes on to point out that government and military officials in Israel were quite open during and before the war happened about wanting to make the Lebanese public suffer enough to turn on Hezbollah.
The report said strikes on civilian buildings and structures went beyond "collateral damage" and amounted to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks under the Geneva conventions on the laws of war.
The numbers are ghastly and make any suggestion that Israel's responses were in any way proportionate absolutely obscene.
The Amnesty report said Israeli military policy seemed directed at destroying Lebanese popular support for Hezbollah, a tactic prohibited by the Geneva conventions.
"The widespread destruction ... In addition to several statements by Israeli officials, suggests a policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population in an effort to get them to turn against Hezbollah," it said.
In comparison: "Around 4,000 Hezbollah rockets were fired at northern Israel during the conflict, killing around 40 civilians. Up to 300,000 people in northern Israel were driven into bomb shelters by the fighting, and 117 soldiers died."
Israel launched more than 7,000 air strikes against Lebanon during the 34-day war, and naval vessels launched 2,500 shells, the report said.
Around one third of the 1,183 people killed in Lebanon were children, while 4,054 people were injured and 970,000 displaced.
Lebanese estimates suggest that 30,000 houses, along with up to 120 bridges, 94 roads, 25 fuel stations and 900 businesses, were destroyed.
Two hospitals were destroyed and three others severely damaged, while 31 "vital points" - such as airports, ports, water and sewage treatment plants, and electrical facilities - were also completely or partially destroyed.
The overall cost of the damage amounted to $3.5bn, the report said.
As to the argument that this latest round of bloodshed started when Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers, it's inherent double standard for behavior is revealed here in Israel's most respected daily paper Haaretz.
Remember Israel still has many Lebanese prisoners, most taken during the first illegal occupation, although they admit to only a handful. Someone who bashed in a child's head with a rifle manifestly belongs behind bars, others are more problematic. As well they hold thousands of Palestinians. Many are held without trial or even charge and held for years incommunicado. Calling them hostages really doesn't strain the word.
Amnesty has promised a separate report dealing exclusively with Hezbollah crimes during the conflict. I'll link it when it comes.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Umm don't they already have every. single. one. of those things?
"A failed Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists. It will embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers.
"In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales."
Sunday, August 20, 2006
- US Recruitment scandals redux -
Lying about benefits, recruiting Nazis and the mentally ill, threatening to shoot potential recruits for backing out and now raping them in the recruitment office. Money quote: One in 200 frontline recruiters has been investigated for sexual misconduct. If they're this desperate for recruits that this is the kind of stuff they'll tolerate in a 'closer', can a draft be far away?
- Today's best US editorial cartoons -
Bush and the GOP get a hard time.
- Macho country star shoots caged tame bear to prove his manhood -
He kicks ass for the Lord.
- Rent-a-coup -
"I'm bored, wanna overthrow an African nation for fun and profit?"
- Who killed New Orleans? -
Pretty much who you think did it. Check this out too.
- The 155th victim -
Lebanon War II and it's aftermath in Israeli politics.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Albertans need to come to terms with the fact that our government is ideologically committed to destroying public healthcare. Publicly and openly didn't work, which simply means doing it quietly and clandestinely, not giving it up.
Public healthcare will not be safe in Alberta as long as the Conservatives are in power.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Yeah, isn't it awful when that happens?
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.So based on a confession to Pakistani interrogators probably spat out between bloody broken teeth by a guy who left the UK years ago, we have mass arrests and a huge security clampdown that results in close to 30% of all commercial flights in/out of British airports being cancelled for a week.
The UK suspects had been under close observation for over a year without a hint of this supposed plot. This whole thing has been based on a confession almost certainly extracted through torture and therefore almost certainly useless.
Are you feeling scared and compliant yet?
Contrast this irresponsible stewardship of the US's favorite client state with Bush Sr, asking Israel NOT to participate in Gulf War I - or even strike back when Saddam's rusty scuds sputtered across the Israeli border.
The scariest thing about George W Bush is that he makes his father look like a sane and responsible leader by contrast.
Monday, August 14, 2006
It's free and rather fascinating. Warren Ellis has suggested that it may be the kernel of what will replace the internet and I can see how that could be possible - the great science fiction novel Donnerjack by Roger Zelazny and Jane Lindskold predicted something similar.
You can spend hours just creating the avatar that represents you, I went for something that more or less looks like me:
Really. It's a spitting image.
Second Life already has politics, economics, crime and punishment. And apparently a lot of sex. Very, very strange sex. Your Avatar doesn't have to look human, so it's a haven for, ick, furries. To each his own, consenting adults and all that, but I stand by my Ick.
It's an interesting place nonetheless and worth exploring as a glimpse of what may be to come in surfing.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
- Americans told Brits when to stage arrests
For a week leading up to a mass terrorism arrest, the GOP pumps out talking points about how the Dems are weak on terrorism. Don't draw any obvious conclusions.
- Mel Gibson's next movie
- George Galloway VS Murdoch Media
I don't agree with Galloway about everything but it is fun watching him trounce the UK equivalent of a Fox News bully
The Media constructed world
Abu Ghraib re-enacted with Lego
Friday, August 11, 2006
The truth behind this is that Israel must always be allowed to do as it likes even if this involves scorching its supremacy into Arab bodies. This supremacy is beyond discussion and it is simple to the point of madness. We have the right to abduct. You don’t. We have the right to arrest. You don’t. You are terrorists. We are virtuous. We have sovereignty. You don’t. We can ruin you. You cannot ruin us, even when you retaliate, because we are tied to the most powerful nation on earth. We are angels of death.
This war has been a disaster for Israel and will end Olmert's career.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Israeli Generals are said to be furious, demanding the opportunity to keep fighting and achieve 'a significant military achievement'. Haaretz, the respected Israeli daily, hawkish up till now, has harshly criticized Olmert and called for his resignation over the Lebanon campaign's 'humiliating defeat'.
The most dangerous result from the whole misguided affair has been the death of the myth of overwhelming Israeli military supremacy over any Arab forces. The whole Middle East has seen that despite massive saturation bombing and apparent callous disregard for civilian casualties by the IAF and IDF, Hezbollah never stopped firing rockets into Israel. This is a worst case scenario for a campaign with ambitious goals and no real exit strategy.
Expect major political shake-ups in Israel and reverberations from this to continue for decades throughout the Middle East.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
This bodes ill for incumbents across America, and the Democratic Party is about to tack sharply to the Left. Which the Beltway Washington pundit class to the contrary, will bring them closer to the views of the majority of the American public.
Lebanese officials said there were many reports of other casualties throughout southern Lebanon but rescue workers were not able to reach the sites because of continued Israeli airstrikes. Israel also threatened to attack UN peacekeepers if they attempted to repair bomb-damaged bridges in southern Lebanon. UN officials contacted the Israeli army to inform them that a team of Chinese military engineers attached to the UN force in Lebanon intended to repair the bridge on the Beirut to Tyre road to enable the transport of humanitarian supplies.
According to the UN, Israeli officials said the engineers would become a target if they attempted to repair the bridge.
Senior UN officials reacted angrily to the destruction of a temporary causeway over the Litani river overnight. "We must be able to have movement throughout the country to deliver supplies. At this point we can't do that," said David Shearer, the humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon. "The deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure is a violation of international law."
We're on a path in the Middle East that leads almost inevitably to mushroom clouds, whether through suitcase bomb terrorism or military adventurism. We can all see it coming like the light at the end of the tunnel that turns out to be an oncoming train's headlight.
Maybe it's time for some new ideas, since the current paradigm is such an utter failure.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Too far with the Paris thing? Too soon? Never mind...
This is the thing that is being used to control us through fear. This is the thing that the Elites think should define our concerns, our expectations and indeed, our very existence. Terrorism that is, not Paris Hilton, though I suppose an argument could be made.
Are we finally at long last back full circle to the simple pragmatic understanding that terrorism is a law enforcement problem and in some cases a festering injustice problem? Start dealing with it in ways that don't just create more of it?
Can we finally start acting like sensible grown-ups again?
A closed-door investigation into the possible friendly fire death of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan has concluded, but the board of inquiry's final report won't be released. The board investigated the death of Pte. Robert Costall, who was killed last spring during a fierce firefight between coalition forces and insurgents at Sangin, west of Kandahar. American special forces, U.S. National Guard trainers and Afghan troops also took part in the battle. The inquiry's terms of reference, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, order Brig.-Gen. Chris Davis, the board president, to "determine what information, including any that has been received from coalition partners, is releasable under Canadian law." The April 13 document also confirms testimony from the inquiry has been designated as secret, and U.S. and Afghan officials have a veto over the release of what they consider "classified" information.What information can they veto? Whether it was one of their Special Forces guys who fired the shot? Should Canadian troops be involved in a mission where the circumstances of their death can be subject to another nation's discretion?
Sunday, August 06, 2006
- Roaring Economy bad for Alberta quality of life - Not a Huge surprise perhaps
"De Makeba," The Jazz Dazzlers - Great South African Jazz download
- David Byrne on 'Jesus Camp' - Like Madrassas, but with less educational value
- PLIF - They pushed us too far
- Mood Art - Electronic art that changes to suit the viewer
Do you know why they're there now, Steve?
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Joe Lieberman, Bush's biggest enabler in the Democratic Party seems about to pay for providing the administration with cover and support. He's heading for a humiliating primary defeat against an anti-war challenger in a vote that could help define the right wing boundary line of the Democratic party.
Tony Blair's poodle-like support for Bush has cost him authority and prestige within the Labour Party and the UK public. Since he made it clear he would be stepping down as leader he's become a lame duck at an almost breath-taking pace.
The American right wing movement, already an uneasy merging of multiple strains of conservative tendencies and ideologies is splitting along fault-lines of economic, ethnic and fiscal philosophy. Bush has offered no coherent philosophy of government or power other than power itself.
In Israel, a perception is growing that the currently dominant Neo-Conservatives in the White House are too compatible with the Old Likud ideologies to provide Israel with perspective or an exit strategy. The Neo-Cons are explicitly anti-stability, and their naivete about the cultures and imperatives of the real Middle East is becoming more and more evident. Reportedly, even the President's father now opposes the unilateralist approach of his son.
The inherently millenarian and apocalyptic worldview of the theocratic Christianist movement and the disturbing influence they have over policy has seriously turned off more realist and moderate strains of American conservatism, while an increasing awareness of the realities of global warming has begun to alienate them from the Corporatist wing as well.
The pace of the break-up of what was an overwhelming right wing consensus has left the administration angry and disoriented. People keep asking them uncomfortable questions and challenging their bland assurances. They aren't used to it and find themselves floundering with only four months to go till mid-term elections.
The way incumbancy has been gerrymandered into undemocratic aristocracy may actually allow the GOP to retain power in both the House and the Senate, but this would just highlight the contradictions between national consensus and actual political power even more. If the Democrats do manage to win one or both houses in November the real story will be the disgusted Conservatives who stayed home and didn't vote.
The American people were traumatized and manipulated after 9/11. They are beginning to realize it.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Israel has not managed to crush Hezbollah, and worse, it has strengthened Hezbollah's standing in Lebanon and the Arab world, which is seeing how a tiny guerrilla organization has succeeded in standing up to the mighty Israel Defense Forces and causing Israel serious losses among its civilian population. That is a dangerous precedent.
The Olmert-Peretz plan was to shell and demolish south Lebanon and south Beirut until the Lebanese public demanded that its government vomit Hezbollah out from its midst. It appears that like a number of other Israeli leaders, they did not understand how much killing, poverty and distress people are willing to take, as long as their honor is not harmed, as long as they are not humiliated. And indeed, instead of demanding that Hezbollah be dismantled, the people of Lebanon want revenge, and they want it now. That is their response to the killing of 750 civilians and the destruction of thousands of homes, bridges, roads, villages and towns, putting Lebanon 20 years in the past.
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