Wednesday, 31 December 2008
So today, I happened upon a report on the Global Money Supply comparing countries' financial status. In particular, at the bottom of that article is a chart showing each country's gold reserves as a percentage of their circulating currency. Gold reserves are, it seems, few and far between these days, so the paper you hold is secure against nothing except peoples' perception of money value.
This is, of course, fine, as long as there is not new money being created in large quantities. But you can see evidence (for the US in the first link in this post, and for Britain here), that the borrowing of money from central banks is out of control. And once this new money finds its way into the market (very little of it is actual paper), there will be a colossal revaluing of currency. Which is why gold and silver are being pushed as good investments as a temporary alternative investment, safer than keeping paper currency.
See here how and why gold and silver prices might have been subject to price-fixing by bankers, who stand to lose out if prices rise.
So, who has enough gold to back their currency? Chavez' Venezuela! (the only one of 25 economic areas surveyed). America is going to have a hard time getting their way and toppling his government when he stands to cash in anytime soon, once gold prices undergo the correction so sorely overdue.
That paper in your hand just might be disintegrating in value faster than you think.
But I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the moments when those in the multimedia entertainment field produce something original and intelligent.
(Image: Hideo's Metal Gear franchise ended in 2008 after 20 years of successful releases.)
For those who don't know, Hideo Kojima is a Japanese game developer who is best known for the Metal Gear series. I first played Metal Gear Solid 2 aged about thirteen, and what I remember most is not the game itself, but the admittedly very heavy plot.
(Image: MGS2 cover.)
It all centres around a secret, all-powerful organisation called The Patriots, who have designed and are implementing a digital information censorship program by which unnecessary information will be removed. They have staged false flag 'terror' attacks, including the sinking of a tanker and a staged attempt at environmental terrorism on an offshore cleanup unit.
And in the meantime, all the public see is the mainstream politics 'puppet show'. President James Johnson is nothing more than a figurehead put in place by The Patriots through the illusion of democracy.
I also enjoyed MGS 3 and 4, the latter of which is set in 'the not-too-distant future' in which endless war is perpetuated for the given purpose of 'national security', but actually no threat exists except that which was created by the puppet-masters. In this near-future environment, "War has become to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th. The central pillar of the global economy." The military is entirely operated by private companies, who cause and extend war to profit from being able to provide a solution.
(Image: PMC soldiers in the game MGS4. They think they are defending freedom, but are actually just generating profit for the war economy in wars created for that purpose. Never forget the Henry Kissinger quote: "[Soldiers are] dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." Reveals what the establishment thinks of the military - then they have the gall to accuse ordinary people of not supporting the troops.)
People are regulated by complex network systems, and nanomachines (which in reality do already exist in simple forms), in order to make them obey and conform to society. Some people, including soldiers, are also enhanced by nanomachines, which for example reduces combat stress and fear, which (during a memorable part of the story) is all felt and let out at once by the soldiers when the system is turned off, leading to them killing each other and themselves in delusion and madness.
Take a second look at some of the things mentioned above. How many are relevant to today's society? Of course, it's just a fictional story, but it is laced with intent - the intent to encourage people to perceive the world in a different way, to 'dig deeper' under the surface of things as they seem.
This is not indoctrination, far from it in fact - this is de-indoctrination, encouraging peoples' minds to break free of the shallow dumbness of mainstream society that has overtaken the young through state education and popular culture.
Playing MGS2 was the first time I had broken free of the childish myth that our political figureheads are servants of the people, elected through an informed decision by the people, and that those who do reach high office are 'of' the people (and not there because of who they know).
So Thank You Hideo Kojima, for encouraging people to think for themselves in an entertainment medium which is often as lamentably brainless as the young people our education systems churn out. One word people - THINK.
Monday, 29 December 2008
(Image: You might not be seeing much more of that one on the right, if its value collapses further.)
But then again, if our currency has not been backed by gold for over half a century, who cares? It's just worthless paper promises anyway. But at least we might have had enough of what is now an important commodity, what with real money being worthless.
And now it looks like the pound is going to fall below the value of the Euro. I could be wrong here, but do we not have the strongest currency in the world? Or at least the developed world? It was the main reason we didn't want to join the Euro, and have refused to do so ever since.
Britain being the least prepared of the 'developed' nations for the current economic disaster, will unfortunately be the legacy of 12 years of Labour party control. And the gold reserve sale is part of that. So is the crippling quantity of government borrowing during the 'good times'.
-PUTS ON CONSPIRACY 'NUT JOB' HAT-
Of course, there is another explanation, other than that Blair and Brown are clueless. They are all Bilderberger group attendees, and therefore possibly subscribants to NWO type thinking.
(Image: The inside of a London cab. Seen left to right: Spying, Globalisation, Nanny State. Or, to the uninformed, "Passenger Notice: CCTV", "Euros Accepted", "Wear Your Seatbelt".)
Every incompetent action by the UK government in the last ten years could be perceived as a deliberate attempt to undermine our currency, and therefore hold up the Euro as a solution.
We are knee-deep in EU bureaucratic regulation already. Most of our laws are EU-determined, and our government just nods and enforces the will of Brussels. We didn't even get to vote on the Lisbon treaty, a repackaged version of the defeated EU Constitution which Labour promised a democratic decision on during the 2005 elections.
The strength of the Pound is both a source of national pride, and a significant reason for not joining the Euro. Intentional or not, the collapse in the Pound's value will help take another step toward Britain becoming part of a single European state.
Yard by yard, walk the thousand mile road, towards One World Government.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Just in case you've been in hibernation for the last couple of days, Israel is now conducting retaliatory air strikes and is (or will be) making land incursions into Gaza.
The given reason for such operations is the continuous rocket bombardment from positions inside Gaza inflicted on Israeli settlements, which has been going on for quite some time, but apparently it has now pished Israel off enough for military retaliation policy to be viewed by Israeli authorities as acceptable.
You can go back and forth all day long about the morality of the Palestinians and Israelis and their actions. In my opinion, trying to justify one or the others' actions through history is pointless and unacheivable.
(Image: an example of Israeli barriers, built with the purpose of preventing people from moving between Jewish and Arab settlements. These have benefited Israeils by helping to protect them from guerilla or suicide attacks, but they have also caused the problem of civilians, humanitarian groups etc. being unable to access Arab settlements. Some civilians and militants living in Gaza have resorted to using tunnels to get under these fortifications. Now, as part of their bombing campaign, Israeli jets have bombed these tunnel networks, not all of which are used by militants.)
But purely from a pragmatic standpoint, there remains one question about this Israeli activity that has not been addressed: And Then What?
OK, so you have bombed 'strategic interests' in Gaza. Then What? Land incursion, probably, as anything else would seem weak-willed, following the air bombardment. Then What? You're left with the same problem you have had all along, IDF soldiers in Palestinian territory, vulnerable to guerilla and suicide warfare, and condemned internationally for conducting a foreign occupation.
(Image: an Israeli checkpoint in Palestine. This is apparently during a peaceful Palestinian demonstration. Read more about the good Palestinian people who want the Israeli occupation to end here. Excerpt: "...for the first time in a very long while, the military did not atatck us. After the mass violence last week, the popular committe of Bil'in had a new plan. They decided to have a mourning march, carrying a large black flag and in silence. It was nice because no one was hurt, and for the first time we left the site in a unified march, not in a scattered flee for safety. There were no soldiers chasing us through the olive groves shooting unarmed children in the back. No beatings...")
As we learned from the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in 2006, ground incursions are not successful in terms of stopping the rockets from being fired, the very justification for the war in the first place. (And history views that conflict as a success for Hezbollah.)
Then What? How long do you stay? How do you avoid the appearance of defeat when you withdraw, given that rocket attacks will probably continue?
The morality debate can go on forever, but when it comes to reality, Hamas has Israel by the proverbial 'short hairs', and those continuing to suffer as a result will be Israeli and Palestinian civilians.
Saturday, 27 December 2008
(Image: It's always about 'safety', but few bother to think about what will be done in the name of 'safety'.)
This is especially relevant to the US issue of gay marriage, I suppose, but more importantly it highlights the flaw in the whole concept of 'living by the Bible' or people who claim the Bible to be entirely true (or even better, 'The Word of God').
Friday, 26 December 2008
This actually happened last year, but it was only this festivew season that the video took off in terms of popularity. According to the report in The Sun, the boy had taken a sneak peek at his presents, and his parents (who had actually bought him an Xbox) decided to punish him by replacing the console with clothing.
Don't worry though, there was a happy ending - the boy got the console a week later.
Consider that video a test as to how sick/twisted/demented your sense of humour is. If you laughed at it, then you probably have a distorted moral compass. I have to say, having read the happy ending beforehand, I laughed when he opened the box. And I do laugh sometimes when others may see something as 'too much', if you get what I'm saying.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
While I still need convincing on some concepts of libertarian economics, as I dig deeper I seem to find more I can agree on. For instance, ending the War on Drugs by ending drug laws, or the suggestions of withdrawal from the UN and the World Bank, neither of which have really helped developing nations or situations of war.
One issue in particular is so important, in my opinion, and yet so misunderstood, or not even made aware to the average person, is the presence and effect of central banks, such as the US Federal Reserve or the UK's Bank of England.
(Image: The Bank of England, London, where money is 'made'.)
I thought about trying to explain it in a few words; but since economics is not my strong suit, I decided you would be better off hearing it from Dr. Paul himself. The following is a documentary film called "Fiat Empire: Why the US Federal Reserve Violates the US Constitution", and at 59 minutes, is quite long, but I got the message in about the first 10.
Monday, 22 December 2008
(Image: Two of the key powers held by a free citizen, combined for ease of reference.)
(Image: Love the message, but note the British-standard yellowing teeth there. Why are our national teeth so bad? The fluoride in the water maybe?)
It is good that we see a human face of those who would be our enemy, because it prevents the general ignorance that those who support the Taliban are fanatics or clueless about what is best for them.
Misguided? Maybe. And it's fairly obvious that the Taliban is not a group seeking to improve Afghans' living standards or rights. But many, if not most, Taliban volunteers are making a conscious decision with their own interests in mind. They are driven by the same fear and hatred of foreigners that has kept Afghanistan an unoccupiable tribal region for centuries, as well as the desire for revenge.
Also, nobody wants to be a collaborator to the 'filthy Western dogs' - for which the Taliban routinely carry out executions - especially if ISAF and the Afghan government is losing the war.
(Image: the proposed surge in Afghanistan may be decisive as the war enters its eighth year.)
On a related note...
Christmas greetings from British Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their concern with their local sports teams back home rather than staying alive is worrying :)
Come home safe, lads.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Depleted uranium is "The byproduct of [nuclear] enrichment...Military uses include defensive armor plating and armor-piercing projectiles." (Wikipedia, Depleted Uranium)
I've got to be honest, I had no idea as to the scale and timeframe of DU usage in combat. It apparently dates as far back as the late 1970s, when there was a need for high-density ordnance materials. There are possible alternatives, such as tungsten; however, DU is used because it is cheaper and a convenient solution to part of the nuclear waste storage problem.
I suppose it is the Agent Orange of our time.
I warn you, the video includes effects of DU that ain't pretty.
Ironic, don't you think, that the only uranium in Iraq was used by us? No WMDs...unless you are upholding Freedom and Democracy.
Use of DU is against every law and convention relating to warfare. The most imoprtant thing is the damage done to babies. According to the Wikipedia article, Gulf War Veterans are 50% more likely to give birth to/father a deformed child.
Right now, the use of DU is putting brave soldiers, and the health of their future children at stake, not to mention countless indigenous civilians, in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are exposed to a cancer-causing, gene-pool muddling toxin only in the name of governments' convenience.
There is an organisation called International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons. The name says it all, and I couldn't agree more.
...and no, I'm not referring to panic-mongering following Obama's election. 'It's the economy, stupid!'
Is the whole world economy doomed? Should we invest in gold and silver now?
This and more here. And yes it is scary, but it is also factual, as much as I can tell.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
'Avaaz' means 'voice' or 'song' in several languages including Hindi and Urdu.
Their website is www.avaaz.org. I have added a link for this to my blog's link list.
A little field excercise with a new French anti-tank launcher. What could possibly go wrong?
An Afghan soldier (I think) being trained by Americans gets to have a go with an RPG...
American Marine with an AT-4; well at least the shot was on target...
Iraqis during Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Worst place to be when RPGs are fired?
Friday, 19 December 2008
Taken from a list of 'Real Self-Defense Stories' here.
How To Stop An Armed Rapist
By Robert Waters As reported at KeepAndBearArms.com.
("...Say, 'I know you're upset.' Compassion is the answer. They are human beings and want the same things I do. Try to be compassionate with them and relate to them." Jessica Flag, of the eighty thousand Million Mom March.)
Maria Pittaras awoke with a strange man lying on top of her. The digital clock by her bed read: "2 a.m., August 9, 2000."
In a gutteral voice, the man said, "Cooperate and you won't get hurt."
It came to her in a flash. She'd heard that voice before. It's not a friend, she thought, nor even an acquaintance. But she'd met the man somewhere
In the dim light, she saw that her assailant wore a mask. When the intruder pressed the blade of a knife against her throat, Pittaras began to hyperventilate.
Until now, the pretty chemist who worked at Bausch and Lomb had felt safe inside her suburban home near Land O' Lakes, Florida. In fact, that's the reason she'd spent the extra money to buy in this upscale neighborhood. Her neighbors seemed nice enough, though Pittaras spent most of her time working and hadn't really gotten to know many people.
The man was breathing hard. For a moment she wished she'd kept the pistol her father had given her. But she knew guns were dangerous and had thrown it away.
Her best friend had taught her about the evils of firearms and how to fend off an attack without resorting to force. Her friend had attended the recent Million Moms March in DC, and had come back with loads of ideas and theories about preventing violence.
Pittaras, still lying beneath her assailant, quaked in fear. But her friend's words kept coming back to her. Be kind to your attacker. Don't make him angry. Make him personalize you.
"I know you're angry," she croaked.
The man laughed and slapped her face. The sting of the blow stunned her.
"You gonna do what I say?"
"Good," he said. "I'm gonna get off you and I want you to take off your gown."
"Please don't take your anger out on me," she said.
The intruder stood over her. He didn't respond--it was like she'd never even spoken.
"Take it off," he snapped.
Pittaras sat up and pulled off her gown.
Now that her eyes were accustomed to the light, she could see that his mask was made of nylon mesh.
Time for Plan B, she thought. Maybe using psychology will work.
"You're an attractive man," she said. "You don't need to rape women."
"You know me?"
Oh God, she thought. I said the wrong thing. What next?
The man suddenly punched her and she crumpled back onto the bed.
"So you know me, huh?"
"Noo-oo-oo. I just said that..."
"Trying to jive me, huh?"
He hit her again, and her head rang.
The man peeled off his mask. She recognized him now. He was a neighbor who had a wife and children. She'd been introduced to him once when she'd first moved in.
"You know you just signed your death warrant, bitch!"
Now Pittaras was so frightened she was shaking. It was obvious that her friend's advice wasn't working. She was going to die.
She saw the knife flash toward her, and she screamed.
Pain shot through her.
As she drifted away, her last thought was of her father's tears dripping like rain on a dull gray casket.
Fortunately, the story didn't end that way!
Maria Pittaras kept her gun.
When Robert J. Metz broke through a window and entered her home, she was ready for him.
As he attempted to rape her, Pittaras reached into a nightstand, picked up her pistol, and shot the man dead.
After the shooting, her father, Spiros Pittaras, said, "I gave her the gun for protection.... Anyone, especially women, should understand why she had to do what she did."
Unfortunately, the gun-banners would rather have Maria Pittaras raped and murdered than have access to the best means of protection available.
Sorry, Mr. Pittaras.
No, they don't understand.
This was covered on The Real News, and since I don't watch too much Mainstream Media news, I presumed I just had happened not to see it. But i was wrong.
I tried to find this story on Google, and in the first fifty results NOT ONE Mainstream Media outlet had covered the story, not even Al Jazeera; instead we're supposed to find out key facts about the world, such as a state being accused of apartheid, from small-time donation-funded news services (which are awesome, but only a few thousand people are regular viewers of The Real News) and someone's blog.
That really made me angry because the Mainstream Media bias in the West towards Israel is bad enough, without news organisations failing to cover a major accusation like this one. The silence is deafening.
(Image: Palestinian medical official carrying an infant. The humanitarian situation in Palestine is a disaster, but the corporate media would rather focus on Hezbollah and how they threaten the west. See link at the end of this post for more photos from Palestine.)
Israel has treated the Palestinians like dirt over the last three decades in particular. Their houses are destroyed, they are denied medical care, cut off from outside humanitarian support by roadblocks and forced to accept Israeli attack after attack on their land and people. No wonder some people want to fight back.
But when they do, the western corporate media will be the first to bring you reports of these savage Islamists who are a danger to the world, and to the peaceful people of Israel (that last bit always gets me).
Or when Ahmedinejad is mistakenly translated as having said Israel should be wiped off the map, when he said "Zionism should be wiped off the map". Not all Zionism, but at least militant Zionism, is a dangerous ideology every bit as much so as Islamofascism, and the world would be a better place to see the back of it.
AIPAC has hijacked the pro-Israeli movement and is using it to call for more military action against Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Thankfully there are some moderate Jews/Israelis willing to speak out against Israel's aggressive military policy.
Israeli apologists, however, would rather talk about the dangerous new anti-Semitism taking over the world. (Can you tell I don't buy it? What about the new anti-Islamic phenomenon?)
All racism is horrible, and there are two sides to the Palestine conflict, but when only one side is supported in our media, I feel justified to be a little outraged and hungry for the truth.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
(Image: Entrance to HMP Preston, one of many prisons in the UK suffering from severe overcrowding, according to a Home Office report.)
(Image: Should the New Deal be repeated? Maybe not exactly as it was, with all the Communist undertones, but something needs to be done to get the economy going again...)
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I don't want to pass judgement too much on this; rather, just see what he has to say and make up your own mind.
The idea that the surge worked is a mainstream view that has been accepted by both parties in the US. Whether they were right to do so, and whether surge-type operations are a success, is vitally important right now as the new Obama administration plans for an escalation of the Afghan conflict.
As McGovern points out (and no matter how frequently the comparisons have been mentioned in the last seven years), Afghanistan could be 'Obama's Vietnam'.
I believe that the resilience of the Taliban as an enemy, combined with the problems with terrain in some areas of the country, as well as the enemy's safe haven in Waziristan, means that comparisons with the US-Indochina conflict are not overblown or sensationalist, and that, if escalation fails, it will be the biggest US disaster since Vietnam. Bigger than Iraq.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
(Image: Shooting, in America, is often a community event that brings people together...)
(...and not just the guys! Also, guns give women, the elderly, the weak etc. a fair chance against the typical violent male offender.)
(Image: The Sun (UK tabloid) gave, in my opinion, a ridiculously over-the-top reaction to Katy Perry, a woman who I now have huge respect for. She mocked their paranoid anti-weapon message and made them look silly doing so. And The Sun is owned by --drum roll-- Rupert Murdoch, the one-man media plague, so victory all around!)
Saturday, 13 December 2008
(Photo: a drawing of John Stuart Mill, arguably the original libertarian thinker.)
The aim of this political ideology is to maximise both personal freedom (as liberals, socialists traditionally do), and economic freedom (as conservatives traditionally do).
(Image of Nolan 2d Political Spectrum sourced here.)
And I get it. Sounds pretty rosy, right? Government isn't going to interfere with your rights or the money you've earned. You are free.
Ask me about libertarianism a few years ago, and I'd tell you that it seems to be the ultimate ideal towards which all peoples are striving; as close to a utopia as could be acheived on this Earth.
(Photo: Look, no government in sight. Beautiful.)
But, the economic situation of the last 18 months has forced me to rethink, for two reasons.
One, the flaw in the libertarian ideal is the claim that total economic freedom and total personal freedom can co-exist. Personal freedoms such as social welfare are provided by the government.
However, in a libertarian state, this would be left to charity. Not a bad idea, and I'm not bringing up the same old chestnut about fiscal libertarians being heartless; but seriously, what if charity was not forthcoming?
Who, amongst the British 1800s/early 1900s 'upper crust', helped out the poor? Some people did. Others did not. Healthcare for the poor was terrible, for example.
What did those benevolent wealthy folks wind up doing? They started to legislate help through the government. Damn those socialists (add disgusted emphasis) who wanted to give schoolchildren free meals, or build sewers for towns plagued by cholera.
(And see graph halfway down this page about how much the UK spends in %GDP on healthcare compared to the US and their 'efficient', 'competitive' free market system!)
In other words, total economic freedom and total personal freedom are, in my opinion, mutually exclusive. And neither of them are great ideas, as with these freedoms comes responsibility. To both look out for your fellow citizens, and not take advantage of others' help, is too much for many a citizen to handle.
(Photo: David Lloyd George, former PM of Britain and influential figure behind liberal social reforms here in the 1900s-1910s.)
(Photo; Sometimes I think libertarians miss the point about social welfare. What if the rich don't want to give? Which freedom is more important, the wealthy's right to keep more of their income or this guy's right to survive?)
Second is the misconception about the free market. I bought this completely just a few years ago. After all, the market had been rising in correlation with the stripping away of regulations during the late 20th Century, so it seemed that market freedom caused market growth.
(This led to one of the best politcal quotes of non-wisdom by then-UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, about the days of boom and bust being over. I think we'll be hearing that one a few more times in the run-up to the next general election, whenever that may be.)
The 2007-8 economic crisis, however, has shown that deregulation caused deep underlying problems. Turns out, if we don't regulate the financial sector, some people will milk it dry and ride off into the sunset with the profit while we socialise the loss! Who knew?!
(Photos: not totally relevant, but I love the pro-gun propaganda in the US. Always strikes a chord with me.)
I think that government welfare, and economic regulation, are a lot like guns; they may seem bad, but do you really want to be without them when they may one day help you out?
That is why I am now more of a liberal than a libertarian.
(Interesting political spectrum test. Are you a Libertarian?)
Friday, 12 December 2008
(Photo: The Canadian Parliament building, Ottawa. For licence info see here.)
Specifically, I presumed the figure '62% majority' referred to the proportion of Canadians supporting the coalition. Instead, that figure was obtained from the number of Canadian voters who did not back the Conservatives at the recent election.
In fact, in one poll, 36% said they would support the coalition, compared to 41% who would not. The support would rise to 37% if Harper (the PM) received a no-confidence vote. Support for the Liberal and New Democratic parties has fallen by a few percent since the election.
The other option, which I hadn't considered, is a new election being held (if Harper's govt is thrown out). This was supported, according to one poll, by as much as 56% of the population, if given a choice between that and allowing the coalition to govern.
Lastly, I ended the article with the sentences "Canadians, the world is watching. And the world wants a coalition."
Apart from this being sensationalist and patronising to Canadians given the errors earlier in the article, it is also contradictory to say "the world is watching" when earlier in the post i said that few outside Canada would know much about this situation (of course, myself might not be included in that group).
(Photo: The guy who it's all about, Canadian PM Stephen Harper.)There is concern over other specific issues such as status of Quebec, which may gain independence under a coalition. Also, an argument against the coalition is that it would undermine Canadian democracy and party politics, which I would also be concerned about if this happened in Britain.
I noticed all these problems and facts just after a quick re-read, and a look at the Wikipedia take on this, which was a little concerning to me.
What have I learnt:
- NEVER type first, read information later.
- Cite more evidence/sources in posts (already done this in more recent posts)
- Always presume you are wrong until proved right, rather than vice versa.
- Show more respect for foreign politics without making broad generalisations.
And for the record, I still support the idea of a coalition, as the impression I get is that even this would be better than another term of Conservative control. Also, and this is not just a Canadian thing, but why are the centre-left parties divided e.g. NDP/Liberals, or Labour/Lib Dems in UK, while the centre-right tends to merge into one party, thus benefiting from the left's divided voter base? Not fair in my opinion, and more than that a block against progressive change.
Whatever happens, Canada, good luck w/ the 4oth Parliament, and I appreciate your standing with Britain and the Americans - among many others - in ISAF, hopefully we'll all be able to bring all the troops home soon.
Their coverage of this story focuses only on the allegations of chemical exposure.
Not to say this isn't the worst offence - it is expected to cause cancer in some of the soldiers in later life - and that this is awful.
CNN's report, however, failed to mention the ice which had been transported in mortuary trucks, or the open-air burn pit where medical waste was dumped and dogs ran around with human limbs.
I'm not going to, though. CNN has a duty to report the full story, especially when it comes to mistreatment of its' own country's troops by corporate corner-cutters.
Also, and most importantly, I got the impression that the details of the secondary allegations, such as the dog running around holding a limb, or the shrapnel in the food, were the most repugnant.
To quote 'Flags Of Our Fathers', "One photo can win or lose a war." Not that there were any photos of these incidents to speak of. But the point is that it's the detail that counts. The details of this story are disgusting enough to potentially turn another few percentiles of the populus against privatised military/the Iraq War, but CNN didn't show them to the people.
To me, the details are more disgusting because KBR has no excuse. With the chemical contamination, they could claim they didn't know. Or that, when the nosebleeds started (CNN didn't mention this either), they were in denial. The open pit of waste and the gory ice, however, were both obvious and preventable problems.
However, to the person who pays little attention to the news (the people who, I would estimate, form two-thirds of public opinion), it's not the preventability of the events which would light a fire under them.
It's the simple, gross, gory imagery that penetrate the average Joe's thick political skin; that is why images win or lose wars. They provide a low-investment way to learn about the war, for people not prepared to invest further or pay attention. Not because they're stupid, or ignorant; just because they choose not to take interest.
That is why the photo of the napalmed girl running down a road is one of the memorable images of Vietnam. Children before her and after her had been napalmed too, but did people 'back home' care about that (even if they knew)? No, they just remember being forced to confront the reality via a photo.
(Photo: The horrors of war. The photographer, Kim Phuc, won a Pulitzer Prize for this iconic image)It would be misleading to say people should base their opinion on an entire war because of small details. But lots of people always have, and lots of people always will, and that shouldn't in any way affect reporting of the details by supposedly reputable news sources.
This is just one example of Iraq reporting lacking details. I thought the coverage of, particularly, Fallujah in 2004 was abysmal. I only found out it all started with four hanged PMCs followed by retaliatory American aggression last month. A whole city provoked, deserted and laid to waste for the actions of a few guerillas - not really 'counter-insurgency' in my opinion.
(Photo: Hanged private contractors, Fallujah. Am I responsible for not knowing the context of the Fallujah battles?; also, how many people know the full context and detail of this bloody confrontation, in which over 100 Americans were killed and over 600 wounded?)
By failing to force the populus to confront the reality of the Iraq War, the mainstream media has both failed in its job to report what people need to know, and helped the US govt retain some support for the war.
Oh, and the Army Times covered all the details (that one surprised me). The ironic thing is, at the top of the page when I was reading this, there was an Army Strong recruitment advert. Props to them for reporting the details when the motive to water it down was there.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I can believe the chemical-polluted water given to over 200 American soldiers, sickening though that is. I'm not surprised that the food gave some people salmonella; and, even though I drew a blank as to how it got there, I'm not surprised there was shrapnel in the food. It's the kind of corner-cutting and bad service you'd expect from a company unaccountable to any kind of law.
(Photo: I feel this is symbolic of the coalition soldiers' struggle in Iraq. Who is the enemy?)
What did leave me shocked, horrified and struggling at first to believe it, was the allegations of re-using the ice on which corpses, some of which may have been dead US soldiers, had been stored. It was served as water to the troops.
I wonder how much money that saved KBR. Really. These people talk about how they support the troops. They don't care about the troops, as if that wasn't already obvious. This is potentially emotionally traumatising as well as disgusting. Drinking little bits, maybe, of your buddy who was killed last week. But hey, if the bottom line is happy, KBR are happy.
Thankfully the Iraqi government recently declared legal accountability for the PMCs, because I guarantee you Cheney/Bush wouldn't have done it in a million years, especially with Cheney's Halliburton connection (anyone wanna impeach?) The PMCs don't seem so keen on work in Iraq now.
So instead, these lovely people are looking into contracts in fighting Somali piracy. And if the Indian Navy destroyed a civilian boat thinking it was a pirate vessel, just imagine what these loose cannons could do.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
If you are a Canadian, you'll be aware of this situation; if not, I wouldn't be surprised if you haven't heard much at all about it.
The Conservative Canadian PM Stephen Harper, it seems, has lost approval, primarily over his handling of the economy. (He lost approval with me when I heard he wants to keep Canadians in Afghanistan as long as possible - I believe they are due to return by 2011, and Harper is pushing to stay with ISAF right the way up to the deadline; popular opinion wants out sooner.)
Now you can tell I am not as well informed about Canadian politics as maybe I should be. However, I can spot a conservative a mile off. Harper was due to face a vote of confidence on Dec 8 (yesterday), which he was certain to lose and therefore lose power.
Instead, he closed Parliament until January. What a principled, honourable conservative.
Thankfully, the Canadian Liberals and other progressive parties are apparently 'working behind the scenes' to form a coalition of parties, which would have more seats in Parliament than Harper's minority Conservative government.
Coalitions are, of course, notoriously unstable (memories of learning about 1920s German party politics in my GCSE History class are flooding back). People disagree. Bicker. The coalition is often short-lived.
Which is why these parties have to make it work. I've heard small pieces of information on the Canadian Conservatives, such as their pushing to build pipelines across natives' territory, or their record on deporting US war resistors - they sound more like US conservatives than EU-zone conservatives (i.e. more to the right).
They don't sound like a good party to be left in power, which is all the more motivation for what I hope will be a successful takeover.
Canadians, the world is watching. And the world wants a coalition.
Monday, 8 December 2008
I was motivated to try out blogging in no small part by the ravings of US conservative pundits like Bill O'Reilly (Fox News), who demonise the 'MoveOn crowd and the liberal bloggers' as being 'far-left loons' and 'hate mongerers'. What Fix News calls 'far left', sane people call 'mainstream', so that was an attraction. Maybe there'll be a prize for the 1,000,000th blog that O'Reilly labels as 'extremist'. Ooh I hope it's me.
Also, i was inspired by the likes of Keith Olbermann (MSNBC), Michael Moore(filmmaker) and Cenk Uygur (of The Young Turks radio show). If you don't know any of these names, look 'em up. I could go on (George Galloway, Arianna Huffington, Rachel Maddow), as many more people deserve recognition for - not getting me to blog - but for spreading the truth, and saving sane mainstream politics in the '00s.
What I find most admirable about these people (even though I don't agree with any of them 100%) is that, during the dark eight years of a Bush-ruled USA and therefore a Bush-ruled world, a few, sometimes lonely voices spoke out against the injustices, the lies, the abuse of power.
At the time the Iraq War began, I was 12 and my chief thought was how great it is that the British and the Americans, who fought together in two World Wars, would flex their military muscles in foreign lands in my lifetime too. I could claim to have 'lived through history', and someday a child would ask an old man about the time the heroic Westerners liberated Iraq.
Well, I have grown up with the sad truth about this and all wars slowly being etched into my worldview. The result? I wonder how not everybody subscribed to the neo-con fantasy of '03; how did some hold onto their moral compass in amongst the corporate media's rush to war and refusal to criticise the coalition governments (at the time even the BBC was into it, I recall, I don't think I ever heard significant opposition to the war for a year or two from the initiation - those who were, I got the impression, were 'pacifist hippies').
That is why I hold admiration for the few voices of dissent who swam against the tide, who shone out in the darkness, and a ton of other metaphors. I am thankful to them because they knew, if they kept speaking out, the public would come round in the end.
And look where we are now. Obama elected in the US, withdrawal from Iraq a consensus; Canada even wants out of Afghanistan. Sites like The Huffington Post and The DailyKos are the new print media, MoveOn apparently has over 4 Million members and there is a popular movement to impeach President Bush. Unbelievable.
King George will be overthrown (you think the Americans would have learnt from the first time that happened). The liberal phoenix will rise from the ashes of neoconservativism, and for that reason it seems like I am a little bit late to the game; the 'liberal bloggers' have apparently already won.
Of course, the Obamas, in theory the new de facto Rulers of the World, actually have a hell of a hard time getting a progressive agenda past the metaphorical bullets of big business and a spiteful GOP. Not to mention real bullets (I hope not!)
'We the people', especially Americans: I urge you to support the Dems when they come under fire for their progressive politics, and keep an eye on big business; some of the people in the upper crust wanted Bush to be in power foreverandever. They don't give a damn about you.
Overall though, it seems we are heading for a new dawn in world politics, and I will happily add myself - just one more voice - to the millions who hope for change. What'll happen when King George is overthrown? I can't answer that; but it almost certainly will be an improvement.
The World Can't Wait.
- ► 2010 (647)
- ► 2009 (555)
- Who Is Prepared for Economic Disaster?
- A Thank-You to Hideo Kojima
- Wave Goodbye to Independent Currency
- Arab-Israeli Conflict: Round 352
- Keep The Internet Free
- No-One Follows The Bible Anyway
- Xbox Christmas Prank...Funny?
- A Verry Merry Chrristmas
- Central Banks, funding the Elite
- Who Will I Be Voting For in 2010? - Early Thoughts...
- Civilian Casualties and Taliban Recruitment in Afg...
- Depleted Uranium putting Our Soldiers at risk.
- 'The Truth', and yes, it is SCARY
- End the Clash of Civilisations!
- Funny and Dangerous RPG Accidents
- Bedtime story: Maria the potential Rape Victim and...
- Israel is an Apartheid State, haven't you heard?
- Paedophiles on the loose, and other British justic...
- So, Did the Surge really work?
- British and World: Right to Bear Arms Now!
- Libertarians: I love ya, but I don't agree
- Getting It Right, re: Canadian Coalition post
- CNN doesn't cover entirety of KBR story
- I thought PMC stories couldn't get any worse...
- America: Thank You for voting with your eyes open
- Canadian Coalition, and Why Do I Care?
- First Post, 'Why I Blog'
- ▼ Dec 2008 (27)
And You Tell Me There's No Suppressed Technology?
It's another of those 'conspiracy theories' that good citizens don't notice. Imagine the standard of living if all the secret technology was released to the public...we'd be "free and independent" as JFK said! No more poverty anywhere! Can you imagine being sick enough to withhold such technology from society just to maintain your position of control? (Bearing in mind that we don't know just how much technological capability is being withheld, because, duh, it's secret.) What did Nikola Tesla really develop?
Individual Liberty? But that's "selfish"!
No, we need to look after each other voluntarily without having a government do all that at gunpoint. Sounds absurd at first but soon you realise that the reason it sounds so is because of the very unfree nature of our current existence. Envision greater possibilities! Ok, some kind of massive wake-up would be needed before this kind of free, responsible, uncontrollable society could emerge. And that's what we are seeing day by day in the world - a massive waking up of the previously enslaved masses (including myself I must add!)