Archive for July, 2011

US Politicians Deemed Laughing Stock by World

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The latest round of sheer absurdity in the ongoing debt ceiling debacle has prompted some harsh criticism from the world.

From Germany: “What America is currently exhibiting is the worst kind of absurd theatrics and the whole world is being held hostage.”

From France:”The American politicians supposed to lead the most powerful nation in the world are becoming a laughing stock.”

From China: “Given the United States’ status as the world’s largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, such political brinksmanship in Washington is dangerously irresponsible.”

When both sides are willing to posture and play chicken with the world’s economy, one wonders what might serve as the encore in this paltry display of political theatre.

But what else can we expect when both parties are becoming increasingly aligned behind a shared agenda of systematically stripping the population of freedom while simultaneously lifting restrictions on big business and protecting the interests of the super rich.

The American people need a change, as do the rest of us. It’s time for a global system that reflects the will of the people, and for every nation’s government to promote policies that serve the public interest.

Sweet Upcycled Bottle Garden

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Treehugger has a nice piece detailing an innovative and cost-effective way to maximize growing space: build a vertical bottle garden. All you need is a pile of plastic PET bottles, a roll of twine, cutting implements, and some time.

If you were so inclined, you could modify the design to include a drip irrigation system using rubber tubes or some other kind of pipe. This way you would be maximizing both the use of space and the use of water.

Amazing, right? Another fine example of how great solutions to pressing problems are already here, it’s more a matter a spreading the know-how.

I find these stories of low-cost innovation so inspiring. And lucky for me, more uplifting tales of human ingenuity will continue to arrive faster than ever before.

What a great time to be alive!

Long Distance Murder

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Picture this: you’re walking home after work, carrying some groceries. The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. A beautiful day.

Other people are enjoying the day, too. Some kids playing. A guy on a bike. There goes a truck with three men in it.

Then, BLAM! Out of nowhere the truck explodes, sending shrapnel everywhere. Smoldering rubble and body parts are all that remains.

The culprit was a soldier fighting an ideological war, signalling the explosion from far away in safety. But it’s not what you think: the soldier wasn’t an extremist by any means.

He was an American, and it wasn’t a car bomb he detonated to snub out the three targets (along with anyone else foolish enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time). It was a rocket-propelled high-powered explosive launched from an unmanned plane circling high above.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it, to think that some foreign nation has given itself the authority to terminate life so suddenly and decisively?

Yet this is exactly what the people of Pakistan have experienced for years, all thanks to the United States of Warmerica attempting to fight terror by being terrorists themselves.

And now Somalia and Yemen get to be victims of this remote controlled murder too. So just how accurate is this “video-game” warfare?

The New America Foundation estimates non-militant deaths at 20 per cent of the total of 2,464 fatalities. Locals estimate toll to be far greater, with one man stating “For every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant.”

Even if the lower estimate is more accurate, that still means hundreds of innocent people have been murdered in this futile attempt to somehow bomb ourselves into a more peaceful world. And isn’t just one life far too expensive?

But an even more pressing question is this – if Americans don’t sanction the use of remote drones to eliminate threats on their own soil, what in the hell are they doing unleashing such tactics on someone else?

India & Pakistan: Burying the Hatchet

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Foreign ministers from India and Pakistan hailed a “new era” in ties between the two neighbors, taking a step forward in reducing tension in the one of the world’s most dangerous regions.

Peace talks were surprisingly positive, but analysts cautioned too much hope until there was progress on resolving the status of disputed territory and other contentious issues.

Still, when a pair of nuclear-armed rivals begin the peace process, it is a great day for the world!

Here’s to happy and fruitful peace building!

Horn of Africa – Where’s the Hope?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The area straddling Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya, has been dubbed the “triangle of death” as the worst drought in more than fifty years grips the area. And the stories coming out of there are entirely heart-wrenching.

So where’s the positive spin? Where’s the silver lining?

Well, for the hundreds of thousands of people who could very well starve to death, I don’t see anything uplifting. But in the bigger picture, there is some hope to be garnered.

For one, it’s great to see a world still willing to come together and help. On Monday, the U.N. World Food Program announced a plan to airlift food aid into Somalia, and the United Nations has raised $1 billion to address the issue.

But most inspiring is the knowledge that days of starvation and famine on earth will soon be obsolete.

Science and technology are moving forward through leaps and bounds, faster than ever before, and will soon provide us with the means to meet the basic needs of every single human.

So, while it can suck to live in a world where mass starvation exists, we can at least take comfort in the thought that things won’t always be like this.

Protests Erupt Across Israel

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Chants of “Mubarak! Assad! Netanyahu!” could be heard throughout Israel’s capital last night as a crowd of over 30,000 activists flooded the streets of Tel Aviv to demand greater social justice.

Awesome news! There is no one in a better position to terminate Israel’s continued human rights violations than the people of Israel themselves.

Keep challenging that inherent corruption, my fellow freedom fighters! Hold your government accountable to the people. Demand transparency!

A more just human civilization awaits us all.

Keep Wealth and Power in Check

Monday, July 25th, 2011

The notion that the rich keep getting richer has gained new gravitas, thanks to a recent peer-reviewed publication. The study shows that wealth accumulation, if left unchecked, “can lead to unlimited concentration of wealth, such that the percentage of all wealth owned by a few entrepreneur eventually approaches 100%.”

In the US, the wealthy have been growing wealthier while the rest of the population has not. This trend has been happening for over 40 years, as per this diagram (click for a bigger version):

The wider the income gap grows, the greater the risk of democracy being comprimised. If left unchecked, a handful of people and entities might completely take over as the United States succumbs to tyranny.

But it’s not too late. If middle class Americans rise up soon and reclaim their lost voice, which they seem poised to do, then their economic system will not run away on them.

The clock is ticking, and what comes of it will impact the entire planet. Come on, people of America! Show the world what humans are capable of!

The Answer to Violence is Even More Democracy

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

In response to the cowardly attack on his citizens, Norway’s Prime Minister issued some inspiring and courageous words:

“You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy nor our quest for a better world.”

“Tomorrow we will show the world that Norway’s democracy grows stronger when it is challenged.”

“We must never cease to stand up for our values. We have to show that our open society can pass this test, too, and that the answer to violence is even more democracy, even more humanity, but never naïveté.”

While a natural response to such a tragedy might be to try and protect society with more restrictions, more laws, and more security, taking this approach too far can lead to needing protection from the system itself.

It is great to see that Norway will be taking the harder path, fighting for more freedoms in the hope that it will result in less violence over the long run.

Take Action for Palestine

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Are you sick of hearing about Israel’s continued human rights violations? Then do something about it!

If you’re hardcore, you could get involved with Freedom Flotilla III and attempt to break the naval blockade of Gaza. But if that seems a little much, then there are other things you can do.

If you’re already involved with grassroots communities, maybe this September you’d be interested in organizing a workshop in support of a campaign to end the Israeli occupation.

Not your thing? How about signing an online petition opting for UN recognition of the state of Palestine. It only takes a few seconds to complete, and your voice will be added to hundreds of thousands of like-minded individuals.

And if none of these options suit you, then I guess you’ll just need to figure out how best to contribute to the movement towards a more just global civilization.


Criticism of Israel is not Antisemitism

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

A report commissioned by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA), released this month, has found an increase in antisemitism across Canada. Yet the bulk of what the CPCCA claims as additional antisemitism come not from actual acts of religious intolerance, but rather, criticism of Israel.

So, once again, we see pro-Israeli advocates playing the ‘Jew-Hater’ card as a way to protect the State of Israel’s interests.

Well, don’t be fooled.

If you wish to speak out against Israel’s horrendous record of human rights violations, take comfort in knowing that you do so along side many courageous people of Jewish faith. Or as members of the CPCCA might call them – self-hating Jews.