Archive for October, 2009

Clean Water and the Carter Center

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Lack of clean water and proper sanitation is a leading cause of easily preventable disease around the globe.  Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.

New technology will help to alleviate this problem.  Low cost solutions, like the SODIS method which purifies water by leaving plastic bottles in the sun, is one such method.  As well, there is the “UV Waterworks” system that provides a very cheap source of clean water for entire communities.

It is estimated that half the population in the poorest countries are sick with some type of dirty-water related health issue.  If they were no longer sick, they would be far more productive.  Providing clean water for the billions who currently go without with be a huge boon to developing nations general well-being and economy, helping them to help themselves.

Many NGO and governmental organizations are working to alleviate the clean-water crisis.  Once such organization is the Carter Center.  The Carter Center, founded by former US Prez Jimmy Carter, is an organization committed to “advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering”.  They promote excellent ideals: waging peace, fighting disease, building hope.

Here are two videos highlighting their work  to prevent guinea worms and river blindness by bringing about clean water solutions.  The reported cases of both of these diseases are on the decline, which is excellent.


Fall of the Republic

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Alex Jones, radical ideologue and maker of some truly provocative films, has done it again with a new film Fall of the Republic.  This documentary is about the formation of a new world order, a new world government, in which the corporations are the state, profit is the sole value, and people are just commodities to serve the system.

While you may not agree with the premise, it is still worthwhile to at least consider the ramifications of what this film presents, and to be aware of the growing threat of concentration of power into to few hands.

The entire film is available online on YouTube or through Infowars.com.  You can watch the first 60 minutes right here:

George W Bush Speaks

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Last night, the infamous G. W. Bush came to speak at what was called “The Texas of Canada” to be the guest of honor at ‘A Conversation with Bush’.  So why would someone want to go to see an accused war criminal speak, excepting those who accidentally mistook the name for a spin-off series of the Vagina Monologues?

Well, unless one was a fan of the Neo-Cons, or a protester waiting to shout slogans, the only other reason could be… free tickets!  Which is why we were there.  Otherwise the $175+ price tag would have been better spent on, well, pretty much anything.

So, how did the event play out?  To start,  many protesters were outside, maybe 75-100, or so.  Chanting slogans, carrying signs.  The bullhorn was going.  As we were entering, one of the protesters pointed at a guy two people ahead in line, saying “Shame! Shame!”.  Phew, that was close.  Joking aside, it was different to be on the other side of the protest line… amusing for some reason.

Upon entry to the building, there was an atrocious line-up while we waited well past the start time to get in.  It zigged and zagged all over the place, looping in on itself.  A clusterfuck with no exit plan… seems fitting for a night with Dubya.

Finally we got to our seats, Bush was introduced by the CEO of some oil company spewing glorious praise for the legend of GW, probably bringing tears to some eyes.  Then finally, he came out.  Even though we were in the 4th row, there was no smell of sulfur, so either Bush uses some new kind of demonizer-deodorant, or Chavez was mistaken.

This was when the first protester started up… laid out a blanket covered in slogans and shouted “Lies!”  He was promptly escorted out.

Bush opened up with some jokes,  and if he wasn’t such a war-mongering, draft-dodging, closed-minded hypocrite, perhaps he would have even got some laughs from us.  One joke revolved around how now that he isn’t the President, he has to pick up dog shit, a job previously delegated.  Of course, the far bigger pile of shit that is his legacy is left for others to handle.

Truth be told, he is an excellent orator.  He spoke pretty much as one would expect seeing any of his other speeches.  Only a few mistakes were noticeable, like saying Hezbollah comes from Iran, and a mix-up saying Iran was more restrictive than N. Korea (which he got backwards).  Apart from that, his mistakes were more in the fallacies he seems to think are truth.

When asked by the moderator about withdrawing from Iraq in 16 months, Bush’s response was that we are invited there by the Iraqi government, and will stay as long as they want the US there.  So, as long as the US’s propped up, phoney regime wants them to stay there, they will stay.  In other words, he wants the US to stay indefinitely, which is no big surprise.

He also commended Canada for our role in Afghanistan, saying that the task of spreading democracy via violence in Afghanistan is harder than in Iraq since Afghanistan is so poor.  He espoused the rhetoric about how we are spreading liberty, promoting democracy, as well as helping liberate a people, especially the suppressed women and girls living under the Taliban.

Now, all of these things are noble causes… liberty, democracy, equal rights for females.  But the debate is not so much about if those things are desirable, but more about what is the best way to achieve them.  Would non-violent, humanitarian efforts be more fruitful than a predominantly militarized approach?  Of course.   The muscles and guns should only be there to back up the cause, not leading the way, since the violence and killing of innocents only compounds the original problem.

Asked about his treatment of political prisoners, he admits to keeping them off US soil so that they don’t get rights.  He justified the use of torture by stating 3 cases were it actually worked… 3 in what, 30,000?  Not very acceptable odds, especially now that you’ve created now potentially created 29,997 new threats with an axe to grind.  No wonder they don’t want to ever let these prisoners go.

Later on, Bush talked about a political prisoner he gave the medal of honor to.  A political prisoner of some other regime.  So, those tortured and abused by other country’s deserve to be honored and never forgotten, but those prisoners of the US… no medals for them, and best forgotten about, apparently.

Another protester shouted something like “War Criminal”.  As well, a group was escorted out when Bush started talking about Israel.  “Israel kills innocents!” one of them yelled a few times.  Bush carried on seemlessly through the protests, obviously well-versed, or perhaps oblivious to anything other than what he was doing.

A few more anecdotes about Putin, one about how Putin described himself as ‘hot-blooded’, and Bush said, “No, you’re cold blooded.”  Another story was about how Putin dismissed Barney (Bush’s dog) with disdain, and when Bush met Putin’s dog later it was “Bigger.  Stronger.  Faster.” said the Russian President.

Then, with a final shout-out to Jesus, he was off.  All in all, it was a unique experience.  It is just too bad that no one threw a shoe.

Violent Protests

Friday, October 16th, 2009

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank, much like the World Trade Organization, have a horrible track record of exploiting and further impoverishing poor countries to the benefit of the wealthy.  There is every reason to be upset with these organizations and to want to protest against them.

But what often happens, like in following video from Turkey last week, protests turn violent as riot police clash with combative dissenters.

The young people, donning faces covered in gas masks or hankerchiefs, tossing molotovs and rocks, are lashing out in their frustration at not being heard.  But what are their actions really accomplishing?

Certainly they are not conveying any sort of intelligent message.  Those in the IMF and World Bank who’ve earned the scorn of these protesters are just going to see these protesters as marginalized radicals.

The riot police who clash directly with these people… they are just doing their jobs and putting to use the training they received.  Its not like the flying rocks or home-made bombs are going to get them to change their minds about the situation, as if they will be like “Oh, you made an excellent point by lighting me on fire… I now see the error of my ways… down with the IMF!”

The owners of the property being damaged are not going to be sympathetic to the cause, either.  In fact, they will only support more police crack-downs, to protect their shops and vehicles from being looted and trashed.

As well, the mainstream media loves to protray all protestors as being wild, violent anarchists hell-bent on the destruction of civilization, and these violent demonstrations only serve to solidify these conservative points of view.

So what does violent protest accomplish?  It doesn’t further the points that those who oppose the IMF are trying to make.  Instead, it only ensures that whenever these groups meet, they will have more riot squads ready and eager to crack down and crack skulls, and more support from the public to do so.

Instead, we need to find alternatives to violent protest… peaceful demonstrations, non-violent civil disobedience, coordinating mass movements, writing/phoning our politicians.  Empower yourself.  Achieve a higher status within your community, gain the respect of your peers.  Don’t just throw rocks and molotovs… find more constructive ways to get your voice heard.

Ghandi was able to liberate an entire country without violence… you can get your point across without violence as well.

The World We Have

Friday, October 9th, 2009

The World We Have, by Thich Nhat Hanh, gives us a Buddhist monk’s approach to peace and environmental issues.

The World We Have

This is an easy read, providing a refreshing message about the world in which we live.  The author reminds us to practice mindfulness in all that we do, in our own lives as well as how we deal with our Mother Earth.

Hanh draws a parallel between our own body and the earth as a body.  Trees are like our lungs, the sun is like our heart, the water like our blood.  Poisoning our environment is the same as poisoning our own bodies, for the health of one impacts the other.

Writing of the interconnectedness of everything – all matter, energy and life -how we are all part of each other, means our very survival and well-being depends on the health of everything else and the world in which we live.  Reminding ourselves of this will help us to appreciate what we have, and to consider all of life  a blessing.

Another good point is that as we work towards improving the world, we must never neglect on our own mental and physical health.  We should strive for peace within ourselves so that we can effectively spread this peace to the world around us.

So, let us take care of ourselves, and the beautiful, magnificent world in which we live.

Google’s Project 10 to the 100 voting open

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Google’s Project 10 to the 100 has open their voting, after many months of deliberation. Over 150,000 entries from 170 countries had to be sorted, and the results are in. The result: a list of 16 “big ideas” each inspired by numerous individual submissions. Many progressive ideas have come out of this, like increasing government transparency, more efficient land-mine removal, and  encouraging positive media depictions of engineers and scientists. Voting is open until October 8th.

While it is nice for the results to finally be presented, they are somewhat disappointing.  Originally, they had planned to select 100 finalists, then allow the public to vote on their favorites.  It would have been amazing to see the finalists, to see the innovative and original ideas that others put forward.  Now, with just 16 broad catagories, the results don’t have same impact.

Oh well.  It’s still a great endeavor and good on Google for taking up the initiative.

Evolution animation

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

We’ve received a few requests for the animated evolution clip in the Global Voting System video.  Here it is in animated GIF format:

Evolution Animation

The clip was derived from two animations that are available at wiki commons. (Pic 1, Pic 2)

Also, here is link to another animated evolution gif, which is quite spectacular.