when i woke up, i decided that my blog posting would be one closer to home, less "political." whatever that means. it would be about how i'm in my final week of school before i'am officially and fully edumacated and how i'm scrambling to finish papers and projects. it would be about the Silly Crazy Climbing Monkey bebe and our Too Hot To Go Outside Indoor Adventures. and lo and behold, this is what is weighing on my mind instead.
the bebe rose and shone at 7 am, raring to go. i'm questioning my giving up caffeine 3 years ago. hearing the familiar rumble bumble of the trash pick up, i head out the door to fetch our recycleables bin. right in front of our driveway, on the street, lays a familiar kitty. not 'our' kitty, but one that i've seen and talked to daily since her birth a year or so ago. she was wild, but never ventured far. she met her fate, thanks to a pre-occupied driver that most likely wasn't paying attention. or she darted out in front of him. who knows.
she looked to be in pretty bad shape and her run in with the car clearly had killed her. i thought about what i should do. instinctually, i wanted to go get her - but i didn't know where to put her. burying her in our yard isn't an option, unless we would want to see her again after the dogs dug her up. not to mention, i'm super squimish, and i don't know that i could've physically done it. there was blood. there was brain. i could see that part of her head had been smashed. i opt instead to call animal control, who assures me that "someone will be right out."
a few hours later, bebe and i are playing in the front room. i glance out the window. she is still there, though it looks as if another car has furthered the bodily damage. her fur is pulled back from her body now and there is more blood. i feel tears welling up, my stomach begins turning again. i scold myself for being ridiculous about a stray, but i can't help it.
as the day progresses, more cars run her clean over and still no animal control. i don't want to look anymore, but i can't stop myself. i feel sick all day long.
around four i decide to call again, as i'm sure they will soon be heading home for the day - only to be told that i shouldn't have called animal control, but Dead Animals. apparently these departments aren't one and the same. they even have their own listing in the book. it says Dead Animals. just so you know. i ask animal control if i need to call Dead Animals, and she tells me no - that she'll do it. and what's my address?
no Dead Animals Patrol ever showed.
i guess everything truly is political after all.
beings how it is now 9:46 pm - i don't think they're going to make it. and judging from what is left of the kitty, they wouldn't have anything to pick up if they did.
that kitty was roaming about, just this morning. most likely taking inventory of food thrown out in the garbage, ripping open a bag here and there for a nibble. stalking birds. getting territoriall with the other kitties. and now, she is literally a large stain in the middle of the street. that's it. i'm certain there may be some neighbors that would celebrate her demise as our 'hood is Stray Cat Breeding Central, but i feel really sad. even a little empty. i watched her, throughout the day, get further and further ground into the asphalt. and it just doesn't seem right. it doesn't seem fair. she has been simply erased. it is too easy in this world, to just simply be erased. it is as if she was never even here. so here i'am writing about her. a memorial of sorts. because no living being with a heart and a brain and breath should ever just be erased.
there's a new little dude (dudette?) at our humble abode. i've noticed that s/he alternates between our neighbor's front porch and ours. about this time, every other night, s/he begins to spin his web. it is huge and intricite and perfectly delightful...
and every morning, when i go out to check, the web is gone.
does s/he take it down after a certain amount of time? how? why? does it just suck the web back in? all that hard, tedious work... it seems like we studied this eons ago in school, but i've forgotten what i learned.
or do policitian television spots gnaw at everyone else too?
stills of (insert candidate here) talking with a disabled/minority/eldery person, pleasing crowds of upper-middle class white voters, shakin' hands and kissin' babies.
i'll fight crime! i'll fight unfair taxes! i'll save the safety net for our most vulnerable! i'm on your side! i'll focus on slapping a band aid on a cut that needs stitches! ok, so they don't ever say that outloud, but thay have to know it, right?
i know... i know ... these are all proven techniques, driven by exacting polling companies - but it's the same dang ad every year with new faces! and meanwhile, in the 'real world,' not much else changes. the rich get richer, the poor get poorer - the chasm widens. *sigh*
i cannot - for the life of me, figure out why this material is still being used?!?!?!
please read the latest written by doug rokke, the former director of the u.s army's depleted uranium project. he became very ill himself after being exposed - as did the rest of his work group. this is putting everyone at risk - civilians, soldiers, whomever comes into contact with horribly toxic weaponry.
i got the following as part of a myspace bulletin earlier today - it was written by a blogger that is published on huffingtonpost.com and think that it raises some very valid questions that deserve a round of discussion and serious thought...
How Many Civilians Do You Have to Kill Before You Become a Terrorist?
The United States and Israel love to throw around the word "terrorist." It's hard to name any of our enemies who we have not called a terrorist yet. I was led to believe that a terrorist was someone who killed innocent civilians for their military or political goals.
First, how is capturing two soldiers an act of terrorism?Are Israel's enemies not allowed to fight at all? If they have to audacity to challenge Israel in any way, do they automatically become terrorists? Is arguing with Israel also an act of terrorism? These days I wouldn't be surprised. I imagine they'll call it verbal terrorism. Sorry, I didn't mean to give them any ideas.
Why is Israel allowed to take bold and aggressive military action (let alone the US) and no one is allowed to respond? If anyone has the nerve to fight back -- terrorists!I wonder how many of us would be "terrorists" if we were attacked and occupied by a foreign country?
Was the resistance to German occupation in France during World War II a terrorist operation? Oh no, that's right, they were on our side, so they couldn't possibly be terrorists. They were freedom fighters. Has anyone in history ever been more right than George Orwell?
But put all that aside and just answer this one simple question: How many civilians do you have to kill before you become a terrorist?
Right now, Hezbollah has claimed 17 civilian lives during their shelling of Israeli towns. God damn terrorists!
Israel has claimed 350 civilian lives in their bombardment of Lebanese towns.
I'm not making a value judgment or a statement on who started it or who had it coming. I'm asking a simple question -- when do you become a terrorist?
This isn’t just about me anymore. I have this little guy now (who shall be referred to from here on in as the bebe) that is always watching me, taking cues/learning from me and depending on me to lead the way. While I know that I’m simply the vehicle for his existence, I’ am also his guide through this really brief journey that we’ll share together,. I’ am finding that this is a very tricky and delicate thing. I’ am questioning everything that I have ever known, or even thought I knew.
His father and I are responsible for setting examples that will be internalized by him without his even knowing it - examples and lessons that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. Somehow, I have to find the balance. I have to teach him the difference between not blindly following authority (because many in those positions have lied, cheated and stolen to get where they are, and they don’t deserve respect) AND being respectful of others and all living things.
I have to instill in him, a sense of being true to self, no matter what anyone else says. I have to show him how to speak up when he witnesses injustice and encourage him to not turn a blind eye. I have to show him how to speak his truth. I have to show him how to walk lightly – to be mindful of his actions and how they impact others and the planet. I have to help him understand that this world is a very large place, full of many people that aren’t exactly like us – and that this is thing to be celebrated. He has to know that there are people in the world that will hurt him, but to never live in fear. I have to somehow get across that he always has a choice - that he doesn’t have to fight, just because he’s a “man” - that I mean it when I say that we don’t hit/fight, because it isn’t the way to solve problems/show anger in a world that pays lip service to the idea, all the while waging unrelenting war. He needs to see that words are more powerful than weapons and to choose them carefully. That if anyone ever makes him feel inferior, it is completely acceptable to deny them him. That a better world is possible. That the old ways aren’t working and we need to find new solutions for the age-old problems. He needs to see how there is strength in numbers. That stereotypes are just that – they are only accurate some of the time and are meant to be defied and risen above. That women are not objects or toys, neither are emotions or feelings. To speak honestly and true. To be himself, whomever that may be. To realize that there are always three sides to every story – what one says, what the other says, and what really happened. To know that no one can ever take away his free speech, that it is something we are all born with, like our nose, ears, brain. To know that his thoughts are valid - simply because he has thought them. To realize that because he happened to be born a white male, in the United States, he automatically has a so-called privilege and will have opportunities available to him that are not based in fairness and equality – and not to take advantage of this. That there is a massive difference between asking and telling…
I’ am only now beginning to get a glimpse of who he will become and it is downright amazing. I can literally see him soaking in every little bit of everything around him, and processing it.
Lately, this is creating a dis-connect in me, in regards to my activism. (And I just realized that I can’t call mom and dad to bail me out anymore. I’ am mom.) The dynamic has changed. I have always been the first to say something when no one else will, to seek out as much knowledge as I possibly can, and to speak my mind without fear. But now, I realize that my every expression, every move, every word is under sharp scrutiny – and promptly repeated. Nothing gets past the bebe.
All of this is also creating a disconnect between me and my supposed fellow peeps in struggle. It’s no secret, if I had to box myself into some neat, little, easily-consumable package, I’m left of left – but not so far left, I’ve become ‘right.’ I’ve been labeled a bunch of things historically (pinko-commie, dirty hippy, liberal, socialist, radical, blah, blah, blah…), but labels take away the individual. I try to stay away from that.
I’m human. And I ain’t perfect.
In my experience in the pursuit of social change/awareness (I’ve been around the ol’ block a few times), there inevitably comes a moment when there are more than two people in a room and the boundary drawing begins. Every time I find myself thinking that this time will be different. Yet, it’s the same shit as always.
You see, there seems to exist a hypocrisy amongst those I can most easily identify with– the same people that are mortified by the thought of physically blocking a doorway to a planned parenthood are all too willing to block others from doing something else that is completely legal. The same people that abhor war and violence begin to push for tactics like armed struggle and calling for the downfall of those they’ve deemed ‘wrong.’ The same people that don’t want Jesus shoved down their throats take no issue with witnessing to everyone within earshot, through a megaphone, for their cause. The same people that say, ‘live and let live,’ want to tell others how to live. The same people that claim there is room for everyone, also say that if others disagree, there is no room for them… “Do as I say and not as I do” will not be a family value.
It is all very confusing to me now. And they just don’t seem to see - that it’s the same thing, no matter what ‘side’ you’re on.
I say none of this in judgment of anyone, I’ am just as guilty of much of what I’ve described as anyone else - I’m merely trying to find a balance where none exists right now, as I’m thinking ahead to the day when the bebe begins to ask me some tough questions. For years now, I’ve tried to follow the following quote to the best of my ability, even when it bumps up against deep-seated, long held beliefs that most likely began to form when I was the bebe’s age, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. (Buddha).”
And all the while I know – in the immortal words of Malcolm X, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” there has to be a balance. Maybe I’m “getting old” and softening up. Maybe I expect too much from people. Maybe I’m evolving once again. Maybe i just don't play well with others - and all organizations make me uneasy. i dunno. There has to be a better way.
And maybe the most important thing that I can teach the bebe is that extremism rarely leads to positive, meaningful, all-encompassing change that is beneficial to everyone who shares this tiny planet in a massive universe with us. And that if we ever, as individuals, close ourselves off to other perspectives and stop learning, stop evolving, stop questioning, stop speaking, stop trying to build bridges, that we may as well lay down and die.
I only hope that I’ am brave and strong enough to suss this all out, and soon. I hope I don’t fuck it all up.
(forgot to post this over here yeasterday, a lively discussion is ensuing over at my myspace blog! hope one happens here as well... k.)
so i've been pondering this for years, as it's come up (surprisingly) several times in random discussions about israel and palestine... i always end up getting called an anti-semite (the first time threw me - i had no idea what that meant) for being critical of israel's policy in regards to palestine. now, with my complete and utter disgust (that grows daily and by the minute) surrounding recent events in lebanon, it is happening again.
i just don't get it.
granted, i don't really have a firm grasp on the in's and out's of most organized religions - ok, all organized religions - just a basic concept sort of deal, but, still... i can only gather that being jewish is more of an all-encompassing thing, than, say - being a catholic or a buddhist. that it's a way fo life as opposed to a belief? that said, i still don't understand why, if one is jewish, it is assumed that said individual will always side with israel's policies - no matter what. and if you don't well, you just hate jews (?!?!). or have i just been talking with the exceptions to this all these years?
the other day, i was having this conversation with a dear friend that said the anti-semite thing is thrown at me to get me to shut up. that doesn't really make sense to me either. what ever happened to respectful discussion? i mean, calling me something that i'm clearly not, just to end a conversation seems a bit petty and trivial to me...
so if ANYONE can shed some light on this for me - please do.
...is by far one of my favorite journalists. he embodies what a journalist should be - what is really missing in the field today. what follows is an interview from today's edition of democracy now! with amy goodman. goodman also receives my praise. she is also a great journalist with a mind that is truly alive.
The Israeli attack on Lebanon has entered its second week and the death toll now stands at about 300, nearly all Lebanese civilians. The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen with hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes.
For a report from Lebanon on the crisis we turn to journalist Robert Fisk. He is the chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and has lived in Beirut for over two decades. He is author of "Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon." His latest book is "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. We reached him Tuesday at his home in Beirut. He spoke about the Israeli assault on Lebanon, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the role of Syria and Iran in the crisis, embedded reporters in the Israeli military and more.
* Robert Fisk, chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. He joins us on the line from Beirut.
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution. Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...
AMY GOODMAN: For a report from Lebanon on the crisis today, we turn to journalist Robert Fisk. He's the chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. He's lived in Beirut for almost three decades. He's the author of Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon. His latest book is The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East. We reached him late yesterday at his home in Beirut. He spoke about the Israeli assault on Lebanon.
ROBERT FISK: What's happening is obviously the mass punishment of a whole people, the Lebanese, in response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of three others on Wednesday of last week. The death toll now has just topped 240 in the last few minutes. We've -- almost all of the Lebanese dead are civilians, of course, as usual. The Americans, in the usual pusillanimous way of Mr. Bush, are doing nothing to prevent this from taking place.
It amazes me -- I mean, living here in Beirut, as I have for 30 years. Here are the Lebanese people, sophisticated, educated, cosmopolitan, people who don't look like the Arab world, they look like us; I mean, people who could be quite at home on the streets of Paris or New York and London, and some of them are; people who read, who are very well educated; people who speak English fluently, French beautifully, and fluent Arabic, as well, of course; and who, when they die in such large numbers, the best we can produce is a call for restraint by the State Department and a claim by the British, our own dear Tony Blair, that the Israelis are using disproportionate force.
The exchange rate for neutral slaughter between Israel and here at the moment is now 1 to 10. 24 Israelis – I think 25 now -- to 242 Lebanese, many of whom, as I say, most of whom, but a far larger proportion of civilians. Many Beirut people were very moved Saturday when the Lebanese Beirut newspapers carried a very, very tragic picture of a young girl, a little girl -- must have been 4 or 5 years old -- near a place called Ter Hafra, lying dead in a field in her blue pajamas, looking, as I said in my newspaper, very similar to that terrifying picture from Poland in 1939 of a little Polish girl lying dead with her weeping sister beside her.
I did receive a phone call today from an Israeli woman living in the East Coast of the United States, who said she thought that what was being done to the Lebanese was unforgivable. I thought she was a very generous and good woman, saying she prayed for the Lebanese people and the Palestinians, and for the Israelis, of course.
But it's a tragedy of immense proportions, because it’s also tearing apart a country. In the last 24 hours we found the Israelis have turned to attacking a milk factory, Liban Lait -- it’s actually the producers of milk I drink every morning in my tea -- a paper box factory, for heaven’s sakes, hardly a terrorist target. We've already seen them smash up the runways of Beirut Airport and destroy part of the -- most of the lighthouse, the new Manara lighthouse, in Beirut. The Israelis today even attacked the factory which imports Procter & Gamble goods here. We've had an ambulance convoy, a convoy of new ambulances from the United Emirates, cross from Syria into Lebanon, got attacked from the air. It's an all-out war against the economy infrastructure of a country that was at last beginning to look modern again, after the 15 years of civil war, which cost 150,000 lives. And it's very sad to see.
I think the massacre of the innocents must obviously apply to both sides. The Israeli dead have an equal right to that claim. But the scale -- I mean, “disproportionate” is not the word for it -- the scale of the response is obscene. Even a small example, I’ll give you. Yesterday, something fell out of the sky over a small area of Beirut called Qurashim [sic]. I think it was part of the wing, the wingtip of an F-16. The Israelis say it’s not, but I think it probably was. And it crashed in a fiery volcano glow and burned trees, bushes, the roadway, and decapitated a young man in his car who was driving home to his family.
I got there in about eight minutes. And there were three very friendly Lebanese soldiers. By chance, I knew one of them, the sergeant, who said, “Mr. Robert, you must be very careful. The Israelis will come back and bomb again, but we’ll take you into the fire and show you as much as we can.” And they stood around me and protected me as we went up the road for about a mile walking -- or running, to be very honest with you, because Mr. Fisk here is not a very brave warrior. And I saw parts of what appears to be a wing. I think it was burning fuel all over the road. I think it came out of whatever the aircraft was. I think what actually happened is a Hezbollah missile probably hit an F-16, and the Israelis didn't want to claim it. They said that it was part of a barrel containing propaganda pamphlets and leaflets, which -- well, I didn't see leaflets anyway, and I know they burn on fuel, but anyway, I saw what I could and got away afterwards and said, you know, waved at the soldiers and thanked them.
And the Israelis did come back some hours later and bombed the barracks of these soldiers, which were members of a logistics unit. Their job was to repair bridges and electrical lines. They weren't combat soldiers. And they killed ten Lebanese soldiers, including the three young men who had protected me the previous day. This was outrageous, because the Israelis know what each individual Lebanese army unit is doing. They know if it's a combat unit, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, whatever.
And they picked on this sole barracks to destroy those men, to exterminate them, because, of course, their job was to keep Beirut alive, to keep the power systems running, to repair the bridges which were being destroyed -- 46 bridges now, according to Minister of Finance, who told me this a few hours ago, have been destroyed in Lebanon. This is the inheritance, of course, of former prime minister, assassinated prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was murdered on the 14th of February last year. He rebuilt this country. He rebuilt the city of Beirut. Now, bit by bit the bridges, the lighthouse, the international airport are being destroyed.
AMY GOODMAN: When Robert Fisk was almost killed by an angry Afghan mob, when he was covering the war in Afghanistan, Rafik Hariri called him after he had gotten out of that situation, almost died, and asked if he could send a plane. But Robert Fisk said he felt that was inappropriate to receive anything from a government or former government official.
Well, on Tuesday the Lebanese prime minister said Israel's opening the gates of hell and madness in his country and urged Hezbollah to release the two captured Israeli soldiers, but said Israel's response has been disproportionate. I asked Robert Fisk about the Prime Minister's comments.
ROBERT FISK: You know, I know Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, quite well, and I like him very much. And he's a very affable, friendly and honorable man, but his response has been pretty pathetic. You know, to call the Israeli response “disproportionate” is to go along with the European, the E.U.'s equally pusillanimous response. Roaring on about gates of hell is not something that Lebanese prime ministers can do. He appeared on television not long ago crying, which I don't think Winston Churchill was doing in May of 1940. But he's not Rafik Hariri and never claimed to be. He's an economist, not a professional politician.
The usual problem -- I mean, the moment the attack took place, the Israelis blamed the Lebanese government, who can't even control a water faucet, let alone a Hezbollah militia man. And that, by saying the Lebanese were responsible, gave them the excuse to start destroying the infrastructure of Lebanon. Even the beautiful new viaduct that Hariri had built on the transnational highway to Syria has been broken by the Israeli bomber strikes. I’ve been there and seen it and stood on it.
You know, what it needs is a government, which -- there's no power in the Lebanese army. It’s 50,000 strong, but they can't defend Lebanon. And there's only three Vietnam-era helicopters or some ancient hawk hunter fighters belonging to Lebanon. They can't fight off the Israelis.
But, you know, I asked tonight, for example, the Minister of Finance whether he's considered suing the major American armaments manufacturers, who are producing the missiles, who are killing all of these innocent people here. And he hadn't thought of it. You know, I mean, most of the missiles which are landing here are made in Seattle and in Miami, Florida, by Lockheed Martin or Boeing.
But it's as if you've got this little tiny parish council, you know, parish pump government. And they talk about the gates of hell, and then they talk about disproportionate, and then they cry. I’m afraid that's not a way to run a country. But Lebanon is a very small weak country, and Israel is a nuclear-powered superpower, nuclear-armed superpower; what can you do?
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk speaking from his home in Beirut late Tuesday night. We'll come back to the interview in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: We return to our interview with Robert Fisk, chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. I reached him at his home late last night in Beirut, where he has lived for almost three decades. I asked him about the World Health Organization’s announcement Monday that it expects the number of Lebanese residents displaced from their homes to reach 900,000.
ROBERT FISK: I think it's probably a little bit less than 900,000, but it's probably moving towards half a million. I mean, the people from the southern suburbs, where, of course, the Hezbollah did have their headquarters -- “did” being the optimum word now -- there are about half a million of them scattered across Beirut in schools, public parks. They’re living out in the open in parks, where it's warm, but what a filthy place to live, under trees on dried grass. I mean, this is a mass punishment of a whole people for the actions of a very ruthless, powerful guerilla army, Hezbollah, which does not represent the Lebanese people.
Anyway, it is important to remember that the Hezbollah crossed that border against all international law. No one gave them a referendum or a vote to cross the border and kill Israelis and capture two Israelis and start off this war. But, you see, they relied upon -- they totally relied upon the cruelty of Israel's response. And Israel, as usual, obliged them. So no one will now criticize the Hezbollah in Lebanon.
But it's a catastrophe, because here is a country that began to believe in itself again after the years of civil war, and now it's the same old story. The country is being vandalized and smashed up by a country which says it believes in purity of arms. And these civilian deaths, I don't believe that they’re by chance. I don’t believe it was a mistake when they hit that army barracks of logistic soldiers, who are trying to repair their own country, which they have every right to do.
And Marwaheen is a particular -- this is a village in Southern Lebanon, where Mossad, the Israelis, ordered the villagers out. I should add that this is a village closest to the scene of the killing and capture of the Israeli soldiers on Wednesday. They were ordered to leave the village. They did so in a convoy of cars, 20 of them. They went to the United Nations, who ordered them away -- Ghanaian Battalion, shamefully -- and set off to Tyre. And an F-16 came down and burned them all alive with bombs. Outrageous massacre. The Israelis keep boasting that they are picture-perfect, punctilious, surgical strike operations. Well, if that's true, then that was mass murder and a war crime; if it's not true, then we can't believe in the riffraff of the Israeli Air Force anymore -- it's as simple as that -- or the riffraff of the Hezbollah, if you listen to some of their roaring, by the way. But one has to be as cynical and as critical as one wants in a war, because no one else will be, usually.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk speaking to us from his home in Beirut. On Tuesday, we broadcast an interview with Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad, and I asked Robert Fisk about this. But I want to play for you just an excerpt of that interview that we played yesterday, done by independent journalist Reese Erlich in Damascus. Erlich asked President Asad about whether Syria plans to demarcate its borders with Lebanon or open embassies between the two.
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASAD: The first part about the borders, we had a letter, formal letter, from the Lebanese prime minister, and we sent him a reply, formal reply, that we are ready to demarcate the borders. We don't have any problem, because we had such a problem with Jordan a few years ago, and we solved it.
About the embassies, as a concept, we cannot say we don't want to have an embassy in another country, as a concept, but that needs normal relation. Now, we don't have this normal relation with the Lebanese, so it needs better relation to discuss this issue.
REESE ERLICH: What kinds of issues would have to be resolved in order to have a normal relation?
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASAD: First of all, not to have a government that works against your country. This is first of all. And second of all, you need the Syrians to feel that they have real neighbors, not cradle for or not a hub for terrorists to come and do such terrorist acts in Syria.
REESE ERLICH: One last question, what would it take to improve relations between the United States and Syria now? Are there any steps that could be taken that would improve them?
PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASAD: Definitely by the United States, not by Syria, because we did a lot, and we couldn't get any result, because they don't have the will. So first of all, they should know and they should understand the situation in the region. They should appreciate the role of Syria in the region. They should know that we have common interests that they don't see. And I think they should be neutral in dealing with our causes. That's how we can get back our relation to normal.
AMY GOODMAN: Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad speaking with independent journalist Reese Erlich last month in Damascus. The full interview is available on our website at democracynow.org. Well, during our conversation yesterday with journalist Robert Fisk, I asked him about what role he thinks Syria and Iran are playing in the current crisis.
ROBERT FISK: They are behind all of it. Look, last year under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, Bashar Al-Asad, the President of Syria, was forced to make a very humiliating military withdrawal of his army from Lebanon. Since then, he's been constantly condemned by the State Department, the Pentagon, the White House, Israel, of course, as a bastion of evil, as helping the insurgents of Iraq, which up to a point I think he probably does.
And Lebanon has been allowed to believe, especially by the U.S. ambassador here, Feltman, who is now mutely and pusillanimously silent, that it was a democracy, that it won its freedom in “Cedar’s Revolution,” remember, from last year, which is actually a fake one, in quotation. It wasn't made up by the Lebanese.
And now, suddenly this democracy counts for nothing, because, of course, what President Asad has done effectively is say, “Look, you may think you have your little seat of democracy over there, but I control events.” Syria is the chief supporter politically of the Hezbollah. And Iran is the chief supporter military of the Hezbollah. And this is Syria’s work. This is Syria saying, “We're back. We control events. Negotiate over the occupied Golan Heights.” And as usual, poor old Lebanon and the poor old Lebanese are paying the price for it.
But you need to realize this was planned a long time ago. No one suddenly got up in the morning and ate their hummus and had some coffee and said, “Let’s fire a missile at a warship.” The tele-guided missile attack on a major Israeli naval vessel had been planned a long time in advance. And militarily for the Hezbollah, it was an enormous success. It set the vessel on -- the ship set on fire for hours, and four sailors were blown overboard. And since then, I have to tell you, I’ve only seen one gunboat off the coast of Lebanon, and that was miles away. They don't come in close anymore, not at least during daylight hours.
There’s another point which the Israelis have not talked about, because it's under strict censorship in Israel, that the Hezbollah, who had weeks earlier sent a pilot-less reconnaissance drone over Israel, made, of course, in Iran, taking pictures, they had identified the headquarters of Israel's top secret military air traffic control center at Miron in Northern Israel. This is basically where the military scientists are based. It’s like caves in a mountain. They're untouchable. But the drone identified the antenna on the top of the mountain and put missiles onto it. Israel has a secret code name of Operation Apollo. Now, this was an extraordinary breech of Israeli security. Never, insofar as I know, since the ’73 war, has it been breeched like this.
And now, of course, now we're having these constant flurries of Zalzal-2 missiles onto Haifa, an amazing situation, which, of course, is frightening, or not frightening, but is deeply concerning, worrying to the Israeli security people.
AMY GOODMAN: I went on to ask Robert Fisk about Hezbollah and the reaction in Lebanon to their capturing the two Israeli soldiers, which sparked the current crisis. Hezbollah has called for a prisoner swap with Israel, and many in the Arab world see their act as having been in solidarity with Hamas taking a soldier hostage in Gaza last month. I asked Robert Fisk to respond.
ROBERT FISK: Obviously, Hezbollah knew when they carried out this attack across the border on Wednesday that the soldier had been captured and taken into the Gaza Strip. But I think it's expecting a bit much in terms of coordination to assume that this was some massive plot by both Hamas and Hezbollah. I don't believe so for a moment. No, initially the Lebanese reaction was great fury at Hezbollah, because they realized that all of these enormous forward movements of the country, the infrastructure, the money, the security, the safety, had had all been thrown away.
But the Hezbollah, as I said, had obviously relied upon the cruelty of the Israeli response, the extent of the cruelty of it, to make sure that at the end no one was going criticize Hezbollah. And as I say, the Israelis obliged. Their response has been outrageous. It has been obscene. And, you know, this is -- we've now got more dead than we had in ’96, when the Qana massacre happened, many more dead than in ’93. Now, it's not the same as, for example, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, where 17,500 people were killed. We're only talking about just over almost 250.
But, nonetheless, many Lebanese now, you see, don't have an experience of that civil war and that area of invasion. They're young. Many Lebanese during the civil war were sent away to be educated in Harvard, New York, London, Geneva, Paris. And they came back believing in a new world, in the West. And they're suddenly seeing what Israel is doing, and it is shattering. And when they look around and ask what the Americans are doing, well, the Americans are evacuating their precious American citizens, and the British are evacuating their precious English British citizens, and the French -- and so on. We're more concerned about the lives of our beautiful blue-eyed white people than we are about the poor old Lebanese. And this is a big problem, you know, because the Lebanese are a very sophisticated people. They look like us. They feel like us. They speak foreign languages. They’re much more better educated than most Westerners. And we don't care about them. We don’t care about them.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Robert Fisk went on to talk about the media coverage of the current crisis and reporters embedded in the Israeli military.
ROBERT FISK: There were reporters embedded in the Israeli navy, watching them shell the coast of Lebanon, and I’ve seen the footage. Then, suddenly, one of those Hetz-class gunboats is hit by an Iranian missile. And within a minute, Hezbollah's television station, Al-Manar, which has been totally bombed, pulverized, pound into dust -- it’s still broadcasting presumably from bunkers elsewhere in Beirut -- suddenly shows all the embedded footage on television, like “Here's the ship. Here it is firing on Southern Lebanon. This is the ship we hit.” Extraordinary bit of propaganda. I mean, absolutely amazing, outrageously so.
How on earth did they have those pictures aligned and ready to put out on the air within a few minutes of the attack on the gunboat? You know, Nasrallah came on television in Beirut within minutes after the Israelis had bombed his home and tried to kill him and, of course, failed to do so, saying, “You don't have to worry about me, but go out onto the beach of Beirut and look out to sea, and you'll see the ship burning.” My goodness me, that was a stunning piece of propaganda. But, of course, the embedded reporters, as usual, will do their job in extolling, I’m sure, the surgical strikes of the Israelis, “as usual.” I put that in quotation marks.
But, you know, there is an awful lot of propaganda roaring on and on. I get very tired of watching Nasrallah saying it will be all-out war, we have more surprises, etc. And then Ehud Olmert says we may have a full-scale land invasion of Lebanon, which is absolute tosh. He has no intention of doing that. He'd lose hundreds of men if he did such a thing. And there are all these sort -- I call them the roarers, you know. Nasrallah and Ehud Olmert are now trying to outdo each other in all kinds of terror language.
I’m constantly reminded of that wonderful line in King Lear, where he says, “I shall do such things I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth.” I’m contemplating a piece on the roarers of the Middle East. Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, is another roarer. And, of course, the worst thing is that they say this, so that the Western press will pick it up. And heaven spare us all, the Western journalists do pick it up and use it. You know, they're looking for a good line, as if this is a football match or football game or a hockey match, instead of a tragic war which is taking the lives of people like that little girl in the field.
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. He's covered the Middle East for the last three decades. He was speaking from his home late last night in Beirut, Lebanon.
according to a recent interview with noam chomsky, "The plan for the Palestinians under military occupation was described frankly to his Cabinet colleagues by Moshe Dayan, one of the Labor leaders more sympathetic to the Palestinian plight. Israel should make it clear that 'we have no solution, you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave, and we will see where this process leads.'"
What are they fighting for? Tanya Reinhart, The Electronic Intifada, 14 July 2006
Palestinians carry the body of Ali Badawan, 22, during his funeral in al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip July 13, 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)
Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army's war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in the air force bombing the next day. The capture of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in advance.
In Israeli discourse, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza when it evacuated its settlers from the Strip, and the Palestinians' behavior therefore constitutes ingratitude. But there is nothing further from reality than this description. In fact, as was already stipulated in the Disengagement Plan, Gaza remained under complete Israeli military control, operating from outside. Israel prevented any possibility of economic independence for the Strip and from the very beginning, Israel did not implement a single one of the clauses of the agreement on border-crossings of November 2005. Israel simply substituted the expensive occupation of Gaza with a cheap occupation, one which in Israel's view exempts it from the occupier's responsibility to maintain the Strip, and from concern for the welfare and the lives of its million and a half residents, as determined in the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Israel does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip. If they are given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control the West Bank, Israel needs full control of Gaza. The new form of control Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison camp completely sealed from the world.
Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, by launching home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza wall against Israeli towns bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a student from Gaza said to the New York Times, "Why should we be the only ones who live in fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together."
The mightiest army in the Middle East has no military answer to these home-made rockets. One answer that presents itself is what Hamas has been proposing all along, and Haniyeh repeated this week - a comprehensive cease-fire. Hamas has proven already that it can keep its word. In the 17 months since it announced its decision to abandon armed struggle in favor of political struggle, and declared a unilateral cease-fire ("tahdiya" - calm), it did not participate in the launching of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation, as happened in the June escalation. However, Hamas remains committed to political struggle against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel's view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel's demands.
Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded, terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police should be destroyed. In Israel's vision, Gaza should be ruled by gangs collaborating with the prison wards.
The Israeli army is hungry for war. It would not let concerns for captive soldiers stand in its way. Since 2002 the army has argued that an "operation" along the lines of "Defensive Shield" in Jenin was also necessary in Gaza. Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the US imposed a veto. Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious and stormy, and the army was forced to back down.  Now, the time has finally come. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with excessively-reported attacks on civilians. 
With the green light for the offensive given, the army's only concern is public image. Fishman reported this Tuesday that the army is worried that "what threatens to bury this huge military and diplomatic effort" is reports of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the army would take care to let some food into Gaza.  From this perspective, it is necessary to feed the Palestinians in Gaza so that it would be possible to continue to kill them undisturbed.
Tanya Reinhart is a lecturer in linguistics, media and cultural studies at Tel Aviv University and the University of Utrecht. She is the author of several books, including Israel/Palestine: How to End the 1948 War (Seven Stories Press, 2002). This article was first published in Yediot Aharonot on June 21, 2006, and parts of this article were translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall. A shorter version of this article was scheduled to appear Thursday, July 13 in Yediot Aharonot, but postponed to the following week because of the developments in Southern Lebanon.
 Alex Fishman, "Who is for the elimination of Hamas," Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, June 30, 2006. See also Alex Fishman, "The safety-catch released," Yediot Aharonot June 21, 2006 (Hebrew), Aluf Benn, "An operation with two goals," Ha'aretz, June 29 2006.
 Greg Myre, "Rockets Create a 'Balance of Fear' With Israel, Gaza Residents Say." The New York Times, July 9, 2006.
 Steven Erlanger, "U.S. Presses Israel to Smooth the Path to a Palestinian Gaza", New York Times, August 7 2005. The planned July 2005 offensive is documented in detail in my The Road Map to Nowhere - Israel Palestine since 2003, Verso, September 2006.
 For a detailed survey of the U.S. administration's present stands, see Ori Nir,U.S. Seen Backing Israeli Moves To Topple Hamas, The Forward, July 7, 2006.
 Alex Fishman, "Their food is finished," Yediot Aharonot, July 11, 2006.
i was just reminded of this after reading another blog entry that talked about bio-diesel fuel, and thought i'd post this list and photo on over here as well...
gasoline is a cliche - the tip of the iceberg. the oil is running out - and we rely on it for every level of this culture. from nearly all food, industry, random stuff that we consume, and basic services. here's just a partial list of things that we need oil to make:
we're in for a world of hurt in our lifetimes, friends. we really must begin to think sustainablity now. 'cause if all of this comes to a stand-still when the oil goes, chaos will most likely ensue amongst the masses. broken economy, etc.
open letter to "political heads of state" - "commanders in chief "- or whomever is "in charge"
i'm completely and thoroughly disgusted and sickened to the core of my very being by all of this death and carnage and mayhem and bombing and blood and murder and destruction. and since you lunatics can't seem to figure it out without slaying thousands of people in the process - here's my solution:
you got a problem? the TWO of you get to sit down in a room together and you don't come out until you've reached some sort of agreement that doesn't involve KILLING CIVILIANSor destroying infrastructure or torturing and terrorizing people for hours and days and years. as if it's normal or acceptable to ever treat another human being that way.
just leave the rest of us the fuck out of it. i literally feel sick ALL the time. even when i've managed to get my mind to go somewhere else for a moment, there it is, lurking, just beneath the surface.
i can't imagine what the people on the ground in these places feel like - in gaza, in lebanon, in iraq... the list could go on and on... and it does.
ter-ror-ism n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
George Bush is upset, distraught, that North Korea has fired a missile that could reach Alaska — carrying a nuclear warhead. Well, Mr. President, you have only yourself to blame.
In case you can’t recall, your intelligence chiefs ordered US agents to curb their investigation of A.Q. Khan, head of Pakistan’s bomb-building program. There was mounting evidence Khan was selling his nuclear and missile material technology to Libya and North Korea. The reason for the spike order, the “back off” directive, was that the investigators had tracked the source of funds for Mr. Khans flea market in fissile material to Saudi Arabia. Apparently, Team Bush did not want to make the Saudi’s uncomfortable by exposing their payments to Khan.
We reported this on BBC in November 2001, based on informants within the top levels of our intelligence agencies, men unhappy with politicians who would have them avert their gaze.
i just found this lil delicious nugget: "How many times am I asked, 'Why vote if they’re going to steal the election?' That’s the point: Make them STEAL it. Make them know they can’t win UNLESS they steal it." - greg palast
AND, in the immortal words ofdeee-lite- vote, baby, VOTE! while we're at it - let's get ourselves a viable third party option, so we don't have to choose between the lesser of two evils ever again. and we NEEDinstant-runoff voting. good. sounds like a plan to me. let's get to it!
do you remember, fellow countrymen and women? waaaaaay back when bush told us that, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised?” remember that oh-so-necessary pre-emptive strike? if not, it's ok - as gore vidal says, we do live in the united states of amnesia and most of us don't remember what happened on monday...
well,all that was said, and the pre-emptive strike was deemed a "success." of course, it was all a crock and now thousands and thousands of people are dying, suffering and being all around tortured because of it as we speak(WARNING – graphic pictures). not to mention growing more and more angry each minute of each day that passes. but, whatever, right? i mean, as long as we have our oil fix for now and over 300 styles of jeans to choose from made in sweatshopsbecause it’s the only available economic option for devastated countries and 900 channels of infotainment reality television available to delight our every whimsy- what's a little war amongst (ex) friends?
so how does one explain the irony that another country has threatened the u.s., even going as far as to launch off some missiles as proof of it's intentions (one that could theoretically reach the u.s.) and these actions are met with, "We want to solve all problems diplomatically. That's our first choice." wha tha?!?! are you SERIOUS? this coming from a guy who was chomping at the bit to shock and awe the masses of iraq just a few years ago - without ever giving diplomacy a solid try.
there's actually what could be deemed a serious threat out there and NOW he wants to give peace a chance? his reasoning is, say it with me now, Clear As Mud. yet more proof that the iraq invasion and take-over wasn't what (or why) it appeared to be...
on another level, this is just twisted. what hypocrisy! OF COURSE other countries are developing weapons. the majority of the world is scared witless that they'll be next in america's quest to control every aspect of the way the world works - economically and politically. and it ain't like north korea wasn't named as an eventual target in the axis of evil speech. don't they get it? this is how it works in "the real world" - if we’ve got the big toys that go boom, you can damn well bet that others would like to have this option at their disposal – just in case they wanna do a ‘lil pre-emptive striking of their own, ya know? look forward to a world full of people afraid and angry at our wee little speck of land on the planet, friends. look forward to the vicious cycle of war. way to go, bush. way to go america. snooze while you still can. i don't see how this won't end up in our backyard.
…in realizing that the majority of my blog entries don’t even begin to describe the immense joy that I hold nor do they reflect all of the beauty that I see on a day-to-day basis, it must be recognized and acknowledged that this is also what drives me. it is truly the strangest mixture of despair and hope, of joy and pain – i don’t even know that i can describe it. all that i do know is that amongst all of the horribleness that i force myself to pay attention to in the world there is real beauty and wonder…
like today – it’s fantastically gray and rainy - everything outdoors is getting a much-needed drink. the air smells fresh, not like the baked city air of the weekday rush-to-get-nowhere. it is a lazy and cozy day. it’s cool out, too – literally - the bebe has been pretty hot lately. our a/c shot craps a week ago today. and yet, he just keeps on playing and hugging and living every moment to it’s fullest - as if to say he doesn’t care, as long as he has me and dada and food and love and books, everything is just fine in his world. realizing this, everyday with him, often brings me to tears. he also serves as a constant reminder of innocence, of all things pure and unscathed. of what could be. he makes me smile, the biggest. he makes me feel as if i could explode with unadulterated delight. he teaches me something new everyday. and i thought i’d be teaching him… silly me.
i have an amazing partner that I love biggest and mostest, a completely whacky family, and equally amazing, dynamic, and inspiring friends. i love you! heck, i can finally even say that i love myself! i truly “have” everything a girl could want – and probably more than one even needs.
there is balance in the chaos. perhaps, this is why i feel so passionately when i read that a 14- year- old girl is raped and slayed by the very people that are in her homeland to protect her –and that this is being done with my tax money and supposedly, in my name. perhaps this is why a world without war and poverty is something i feel i need to work towards. i have a responsibility to the planet and all of its peoples – the beauty and truth and wonder must be protected. i’ am a continuous work in progress. like Dylan so eloquently put it, “those who aren’t busy being born are busy dying.” i don’t have all the answers, but i’am looking – and i’am open. for myself, it is extremely counter-productive to harbor anger and negativity – i try my best to acknowledge these kinds of emotions and release them. they do serve a purpose, after all. writing has always been a safe haven for me, as long as i’ve been able to write. i’ve been thinking about all of this, all day long. and if you’re still reading – thank you for sharing this journey with me.
there really is a point to all this. hang tight.
so, a few minutes ago, i finally got around to picking up the latest copy of utne reader that’s been hanging out with my copy of mother jones that i just haven’t gotten to yet… and lo and behold, there’s this amazing interview. synchronicity. (see? we’ve come full circle!) it showed up at just the right time. you should read it, too. here it be.
enjoy your perfectly cozy, drizzling sunday eve. or whatever weather you may be happening to have in your neck ‘o the woods. and i shall talk to you soon. i’m going to go smooch my lovey-dove, and cover the bebe with all of the kisses in the world and listen to that perfect, pure giggle. maybe listen to rain. be well…
will says that war is terrible, and this is why it should be avoided at all costs. he says that war takes a moderately decent human being and turns them into an animal. i think he's right. and again, another situation reveals itself in which people react as a direct result of their current station in life. war is most likely responsible for the actions of these 5. war must stop. the senseless killing and maiming and disregard for human life must stop. now. and it won't until we demand it. and not take no for an answer.
a few days ago, midnight-ish o’clock, perched up on this little table thingy we have on our front porch, peeking in the window to see if bebe was still asleep. somebody doesn’t tend to wake when bebe stirs like i do…
i hear this rustling sound in the bushes just to the right of the front porch. thinking it’s one of the 5,000 feral kittens living between the houses, i step off the table and look over to see a man 4 feet away from me, sans shirt which is flung over his shoulder, stealthily maneuvering between the tree and the bush, head cocked, headed back into the area between our houses - trying to look in our neighbor’s window. the only thing at the end of this area is the gate to our backyard. i froze. my heart starts this insane pounding, and it’s all i can hear. he probably heard it too. that’s probably what scared him.
without ever looking at me, he starts a bit, then takes off across their front yard and jumps the three feet to the sidewalk below. he then makes tracks, all fast like, up the street looking all around like he’s about to be busted doing something he shouldn’t.scared the bejesus (what is bejesus, anyway?) outta me. i have Deep-Seeded-Safety-Issues stemming from traumatic past stuff i won’t bore you with. add a bebe in the mix that i’m responsible for and we’ve got us quite a concoction.
of course, i come inside and think about it for the next 4 hours since i can’t get to sleep.
i hate feeling frightened in my own home .
even though i know, that statistically, something like 98% of violent crime victims know their attackers.
so, what was he doing? was he trying to sneak up on me? i ‘spose i was hidden by the tree that he was coming around, as well as the one by the table thingy on our front porch…
was he looking for one of our neighbors? (come to find out, no.)
was he casing the place, looking for a way in? (most likely – unless I missed a possible scenario).
then i got pissed. prepare thyselves for a rant.
i suppose it would be easiest to be angry at the Creeping Man, for what I think he was about to do - but all that experience did was renew and reaffirm my anger and sadness at the economic system that created him. the same one that has perpetrated my fear. we live in a blatantly harmful capitalistic society that would have us believe that accumulating massive amounts of stuff at all costs defines who we are as individuals. dictates our worth as people. the pursuit of this so-called “american dream” has created an inevitable back-lash of folks that want/need/are addicted to the creations of this system and are willing to risk becoming a pawn in the criminal injustice system simply to try and have a wee bit. all the while, the real criminals, a handful of people really, are making off with the loot – leaving the rest of the millions of us to fend for ourselves and live in denial that we won’t end up wasting away in a nursing home someday penniless.
and we live in the Wealthiest Country In The World. massive dis-connect.
i do know this – the answer isn’t more cops, as the politicians love to stump on and would also love for us to believe. all of those laws/options created to control “the problem” can be likened to slapping a band-aid on an arm that needs to be amputated. we don’t need a war on crime – we need a war on poverty. martin luther king jr. said it best, “there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. people who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”
i can only imagine what brought the Creeping Man to the moment that i saw him, sneaking around some shrubbery to try and find a way in a stranger’s home. what in his life led him here? do we ever ask that? do we ever really question the symptoms of the dis-ease? do we realize that in order for this system to “work” that an entire segment of society must suffer? and that suffering spreads itself? it is a vicious cycle, indeed. one in which many people stand to be hurt – mentally, physically, and otherwise. no man-made thing in this culture is that cool OR that important... except food. food is important.
speaking of standing, i think i’ll go stand out on the porch, in the dark, just to prove to me that i can. to prove that the bastards haven’t won. to quiet my fear until it passes. and to think about what might be done differently than it is today.
On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?
These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.
National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves.
Our citizenry has been brought up to see our nation as different from others, an exception in the world, uniquely moral, expanding into other lands in order to bring civilization, liberty, democracy.
That self-deception started early.
When the first English settlers moved into Indian land in Massachusetts Bay and were resisted, the violence escalated into war with the Pequot Indians. The killing of Indians was seen as approved by God, the taking of land as commanded by the Bible. The Puritans cited one of the Psalms, which says: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the Earth for thy possession."
When the English set fire to a Pequot village and massacred men, women and children, the Puritan theologian Cotton Mather said: "It was supposed that no less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day."
On the eve of the Mexican War, an American journalist declared it our "Manifest Destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence." After the invasion of Mexico began, The New York Herald announced: "We believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country."
It was always supposedly for benign purposes that our country went to war.
We invaded Cuba in 1898 to liberate the Cubans, and went to war in the Philippines shortly after, as President McKinley put it, "to civilize and Christianize" the Filipino people.
As our armies were committing massacres in the Philippines (at least 600,000 Filipinos died in a few years of conflict), Elihu Root, our secretary of war, was saying: "The American soldier is different from all other soldiers of all other countries since the war began. He is the advance guard of liberty and justice, of law and order, and of peace and happiness."
We see in Iraq that our soldiers are not different. They have, perhaps against their better nature, killed thousands of Iraq civilians. And some soldiers have shown themselves capable of brutality, of torture.
Yet they are victims, too, of our government's lies.
How many times have we heard President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tell the troops that if they die, if they return without arms or legs, or blinded, it is for "liberty," for "democracy"?
One of the effects of nationalist thinking is a loss of a sense of proportion. The killing of 2,300 people at Pearl Harbor becomes the justification for killing 240,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The killing of 3,000 people on Sept. 11 becomes the justification for killing tens of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Iraq.
And nationalism is given a special virulence when it is said to be blessed by Providence. Today we have a president, invading two countries in four years, who announced on the campaign trail last year that God speaks through him.
We need to refute the idea that our nation is different from, morally superior to, the other imperial powers of world history.
We need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.
...if we don't start to be mindful of our impact on the planet. and we'll totally deserve it.
i'm taking a course right now about global warming. i'm just getting into it, so i'm no expert, but - as dylan and ani have said, "you don't have to be a weatherman to look around and see the weather." every day i read something new that i didn't know before and i look around and wonder what the world will be like for riley. and i'm terrified for him. and i'm disgusted with us, as well as the media for continuing to report global warming as if it's just some silly theory. thing is, this planet has historically ridded itself of civilizations that attempted to over-consume what was "available." we're seeing the climate change vis a vis more powerful and devestating storms. we're very possibly near peak oil. we are depleting all of our resources and there continue to be more and more of us born everyday to compete for those resources.
we're again nearing a crisis point. and the fact of the matter is this - if we don't begin to address all of what we have caused - we are literally going to destroy ourselves. the balance is off. and american consumption habits are leading the herd in driving climate change and global warming. it is up to us - not the government. we must begin to make easy, small changes in our daily lives and begin to put the pressure on those in positions of power to do the same on a larger scale. the mayans and sumarians didn't have the technology to reverse what they began. we do. so what's it gonna be? our economic path must change course, on many levels. we must demand sustainability...
i urge you to check this out - the entire book is online here - read the first chapter. it succinctly outlines what the issues are, how this will effect you, and what is being done and can be done. discuss.
and i haven't seen it yet, but i hear that 'an inconvenient truth' is really excellent as a primer.
some ideas for reducing C02 output on a day-to-day basis - parenthesis is me:
Use Compact Fluorescent Bulbs Replace 3 frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 per year.
Inflate Your Tires Keep the tires on your car adequately inflated. Check them monthly. Save 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $840 per year. (ride a bike or walk instead)
Change Your Air Filter Check your car's air filter monthly. Save 800 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $130 per year.
Fill the Dishwasher Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. (or better yet, hand wash them)
Use Recycled Paper Make sure your printer paper is 100 percent post consumer recycled paper. Save 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper.
Adjust Your Thermostat Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer. Save 2000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $98 per year. (or use it only when neccesary)
Check Your Waterheater Keep your water heater thermostat no higher than 120 F. Save 550 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $30 per year. (tankless water heaters are great, too - they only heat what you use)
Change the AC Filter Clean or replace dirty air conditioner filters as recommended. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150 per year.
Take Shorter Showers Showers account for 2/3 of all water heating costs. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $99 per year.
Install a Low-Flow Showerhead Using less water in the shower means less energy to heat the water. Save 350 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150.
Buy Products Locally Buy locally and reduce the amount of energy required to drive your products to your store. (it is farmer's market mecca this time of year! find one near you!)
Buy Minimally Packaged Goods Less packaging could reduce your garbage by about 10 percent. Save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide and $1,000 per year. (buying in bulk, using your own containers for refilling is a great idea)
Buy a Hybrid Car The average driver could save 16,000 lbs. of CO2 and $3,750 per year driving a hybrid (again, walk or ride a bike when you can - help the push for sustainable mass transit - carpool)
Buy a Fuel Efficient Car Getting a few extra miles per gallon makes a big difference. Save thousands of lbs. of CO2 and a lot of money per year.
Carpool When You Can Own a big vehicle? Carpooling with friends and co-workers saves fuel. Save 790 lbs. of carbon dioxide and hundreds of dollars per year.
Reduce Garbage Buy products with less packaging and recycle paper, plastic and glass. Save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year.
Plant a Tree Trees suck up carbon dioxide and make clean air for us to breath. Save 2,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year.
Insulate Your Water Heater Keep your water heater insulated could save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year.
Replace Old Appliances Inefficient appliances waste energy. Save hundreds of lbs. of carbon dioxide and hundreds of dollars per year.
Weatherize Your Home Caulk and weather strip your doorways and windows. Save 1,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $274 per year.
Use a Push Mower Use your muscles instead of fossil fuels and get some exercise. Save 80 lbs of carbon dioxide and x $ per year.
Unplug Un-Used Electronics Even when electronic devices are turned off, they use energy. Save over 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $256 per year.
Put on a Sweater Instead of turning up the heat in your home, wear more clothes Save 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $250 per year.
Insulate Your Home Make sure your walls and ceilings are insulated. Save 2,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $245 per year.
Air Dry Your Clothes Line-dry your clothes in the spring and summer instead of using the dryer. Save 700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $75 per year.
Switch to a Tankless Water Heater Your water will be heated as you use it rather than keeping a tank of hot water. Save x lbs. of carbon dioxide and $390 per year.
Switch to Double Pane Windows Double pane windows keep more heat inside your home so you use less energy. Save 10,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $436 per year.
Buy Organic Food The chemicals used in modern agriculture pollute the water supply, and require energy to produce.
Bring Cloth Bags to the Market Using your own cloth bag instead of plastic or paper bags reduces waste and requires no additional energy.
You are beyond wise. You are so smart, you're almost prophetic.
Your inner voice always speaks the truth, and you take the time to listen to it.
You are good at seeing who people are... including the darkness of others.
As a result, you tend to have a rather dark - yet realistic - outlook on life.
A: Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually.
Q: Is the earth really getting hotter?
A: Yes. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.
Q: Are warmer temperatures causing bad things to happen?
A: Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington. Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic's perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade.
Q: Is global warming making hurricanes worse?
A: Global warming doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.
Q: Is there really cause for serious concern?
A: Yes. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:
1. Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.
2. Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
4. Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
5. Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
Q: Could global warming trigger a sudden catastrophe?
A: Recently, researchers -- and even the U.S. Defense Department -- have investigated the possibility of abrupt climate change, in which gradual global warming triggers a sudden shift in the earth's climate, causing parts of the world to dramatically heat up or cool down in the span of a few years.
Q: What country is the largest source of global warming pollution?
A: The United States. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world's top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so -- we already have the know-how.
Q: How can we cut global warming pollution?
A: It's simple: By reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy.
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