iran k.o.'s north korea

you have to hand it to president mahmoud ahmadinejad: he can sling shit like the best of them. there is a lot of impatience now with how nuclear talks are going (or aren't going in this case) with iran, and the united states is itching for sanctions. what's interesting to me about all of this, is that the president of iran has managed to wrestle the crazy mantle away from poor little kim jong-il of north korea. i mean, what's a guy gotta do around here to get some attention from mainstream media?

apparently firing off a crappy missile isn't enough when you've got mahmoud ahmadinejad giving crazy soundbites like how israel needs to be wiped off the map. saying something anti-semitic seems to be all the rage these days: just ask mel gibson. or maybe it's about time for a nuclear test? it appears kim jong-il crossed into china to explain his military provocations to his beijing allies. china, who is allied to both north korea and to a certain extent, iran, is in an interesting situation. they want to be one of the top developed nations, but they need iran's oil and they've got this decades old partnership with south korea... with friends like those, who needs enemies, eh?

at any rate, it appears the bejing is starting to lose patience with mr. kim jong-il. i will say, that i'm pretty impatient with this whole thing. if north korea has a weapon, i want to see concrete proof of it. it's sort of like playing poker: you don't know if the other person is bluffing or not, but you really want to see their cards, even if there is a good possibility they have a killer hand. the flip side to all of this is that they have absolutely nothing. we'll see, because eventually someone has to call. here's the guardian article:

Growing fears over North Korea nuclear test

Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Wednesday August 30, 2006

The Guardian

International concerns about a possible North Korean nuclear test increased today with reports that Kim Jong-il may have crossed the border into China to explain his military provocations to uneasy allies in Beijing.

According to the South Korean media, satellites have tracked a special North Korean train, the usual form of transport for Mr Kim, entering Chinese territory. If confirmed, it would be his second trip to Beijing in less than a year - an unheard-of flurry of diplomacy for a notoriously travel-shy figurehead.

The reports are impossible to verify, but they come amid growing signs of Chinese anger with Mr Kim over last month's missile tests, and regional anxiety about his next move. Earlier this month, the South Korean president, Roh Moo-hyun, requested an emergency summit with Beijing's leaders.

For the past two weeks, Washington and Seoul have been buzzing with speculation that Pyongyang may be preparing to test a nuclear bomb. North Korea has frequently boasted it possesses such a weapon, but has never proved it. Testing a nuclear weapon would be seen as a dangerous escalation of the crisis.

Mr Kim hopes to frighten Washington into making concessions, particularly lifting the financial restrictions on North Korea's overseas deposits. The choking of Pyongyang's foreign accounts, initiated by Washington in the name of an anti-money laundering campaign, has put Mr Kim under more pressure than any previous measure.

China has also demonstrated its frustration with the North Korean leader. Although the two countries were once described as being "as close as lips and teeth", there have been several signs of a rift in the past year.

According to customs figures, China's exports of rice, maize and wheat to North Korea have slumped by more than two thirds in the first seven months of this year to 102,000 tonnes, compared with 331,000 tonnes in the same period last year. South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper has reported a "significant decline" in oil exports. Chinese financial institutions are also said to have cooperated with US moves to freeze North Korean accounts.

"It's quite clear that relations between China and North Korea are tense now," said Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing. "Since the North Korean missile test, China has been indirectly supporting US sanctions on Pyongyang. If today's visit is confirmed, it may show that Kim Jong-il wants to complain about this."

Mr Kim is said to have expressed his distrust of his country's traditional allies after Beijing and Russia supported a United Nations security resolution criticising Pyongyang for the missile tests. According to a report by the Kyodo news agency, Mr Kim said China and Russia were unreliable at a meeting of North Korea's ambassadors, all of whom were hastily recalled to Pyongyang and instructed to prepare for a strengthening of the country's deterrent power.

"It is a critical time for North Korea. They are clearly frustrated. The financial restrictions are getting tighter and the Bush administration is showing no sign of flexibility," said Peter Beck, a North Korea expert at the International Crisis Group in Seoul. "If North Korea wants to do a nuclear test, they would want to consult with China first."

But he said Beijing was already unhappy with its neighbour and a test would make relations worse. "China's leaders want a stable buffer, but they also want a stable region and right now North Korea is threatening that stability. I don't know at what point Chinese leaders would start to think that North Korea is acting in such an irresponsible way that they cannot support it any more."

(source 1) (source 2)

entourage: drama

let us pause for a moment between nuclear talks and take in the greatness that is drama. drama is what sells entourage for me. yes, ari is good, but drama is great.

so far, drama's best line this season has been when eric is deciding whether to have a threesome with his girlfriend and another girl. drama offers this advice:

"when opportunity knocks, let her the fuck in. and for god's sakes, let her go down on your girlfriend!"

darfur, again and again and again...

so between lebanon, iran and the renewed interest in the aftermath of katrina, the news is pretty full these days. however, it's good to see that the united nations hasn't forgotten about darfur. it looks like the u.n. has readied itself, at least legally, to move in and take over the peacekeeping duties from the african union as soon as sudan's government gives its consent. of course, legally being able to and actually being able to are two different things. at any rate, it appears that the violence in darfur has only gotten worse, thus threatening the peace agreement. it's important to keep some sort of focus on this situation, because like rwanda, it is yet another test for the international community, to see if we are serious about defending human rights. some would say it is already a failure, due to the immense numbers of casualties already, but i guess it's better late than never. yeah, right. tell that to all the orphaned children. anyway, the following is an article from times online of what is going on:

Times Online

August 31, 2006

New hope for Darfur peacekeeping dealBy Times Online and AP at the United Nations:

The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution that would give the UN authority over peacekeepers in Darfur as soon as Sudan’sGovernment gives its consent.

This resolution will add muscle and funding to a peacekeeping force now run by the African Union which has been unable to stop the Darfur violence that has killed more than 200,000 people.

UN officials and aid workers say the crisis has only deepened in recent months, with rape, killings and other attacks in Darfur at a new high. Yet the council cannot take any significant action on the resolution until Sudan reverses its opposition to a UN force.

The United States and Britain, the two original sponsors of the resolution, hoped that the vote would help put new pressure on President Omar al-Bashir to acquiesce. "It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur," US ambassador John Bolton said.

"Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide." The resolution was passed 12 votes to nil, with China, Qatar and Russia abstaining. China and Russia said that they supported the contents of the resolution but wanted Sudan’s consent before adopting it.

By pushing ahead, China said, the Council only risked triggering further violence in Darfur.

The remote Darfur region was plunged into conflict in 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.

The Government is accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as janjaweed who have been blamed for widespread atrocities. A peace deal signed by the Government and one of the ethnic African rebel groups operating in the region has had little effect.

One central element of the resolution would give the peacekeepers new power to intervene to protect civilians in Darfur. The current African Union force has had little authority to intervene to stop such attacks.

The resolution would place peacekeeping authority for the Darfur mission into the hands of a separate UN force already deployed in Sudan’s south.

That peacekeeping force, which now has about 10,000 troops, would be expanded to 17,000 military personnel and up to 3,300 civilian police to cover both areas.

In a new bid to win Sudan’s consent, the Council has planned a high-level meeting for September 8 to discuss the issue with Sudanese officials as well as representatives from the African Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

canada in afghanistan

so it seems our troops will be getting extra help, as in more equipment, which is always welcome. however, a more constructive solution to canadian deaths would be to release them from united states control. right now, we're following the game plan that the u.s. has carved out in afghanistan, but i don't think the u.s. is as focused on afghanistan as they are in iraq. i also don't think they see the extent to which the war has changed on the ground, considering the canadians have been doing the heavy lifting in that area for at least the past three years.
i think it may be about time that the canadians start doing things their own way. i'm not saying to take over complete control, but maybe there should be a new strategy, because clearly, the current one, doesn't benefit the canadians or the afghan forces. and considering how much of a bang up job the united states has been doing in iraq, maybe it's time for new ideas. a good first step is to get the afghan government more involved, as is suggested in the bottom article from the cbc, but how realistic that is, is still in question.
this is why i don't think we should be involved in a peacekeeping mission in lebanon. we've spread our forces too thin over the years; our soldiers are overworked and overstressed. we don't have a million strong standing army; which means we can't be everywhere at once. heck, it is clear that even the united states can't, otherwise they would have gone into iran by now. at any rate, below is the article:

'Canada can do more' for Afghanistan: O'Connor

Last Updated Thu, 31 Aug 2006 06:28:50 EDT
cbc news.

Ottawa wants to help put more equipment in the hands of Afghanistan's army and police forces, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said Thursday before meeting with the Afghan president.

"I've asked [the army] to develop a plan to increase Canada's contribution to the provincial reconstruction team," said O'Connor, who spoke before wrapping up a two-day visit with Canadian troops in Kandahar.

"The job in Afghanistan is not done. Canada can do more."

O'Connor, who left the main Canadian base in Kandahar for Kabul, didn't say whether that means the federal government would increase its financial assistance to Afghanistan.
Canada has already provided roughly 2,200 soldiers to the country's volatile southern region and pledged $1 billion for reconstruction over 10 years. About 200 soldiers, civilian and diplomatic experts make up the provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar City.
Since the mission started four years ago, 28 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan, many at the hands of Taliban fighters.
Canada expects more from Afghans:
While in Kabul, O'Connor will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The defence minister made it clear he'll ask Karzai for something in return for Canada's efforts.
"We would like to see more of the Afghan national army, more effort on the [part of] the police, more construction efforts from the central government here in the south," he said.
O'Connor, a retired general, is also expected to meet with Pakistani officials during his visit to the region.
Pakistan is believed to be an operations centre for the Taliban, Afghanistan's former hardline rulers, and a source for Taliban fighters.
On Wednesday, O'Connor said he believes the security situation in Afghanistan will improve over the next year, saying the media focuses too much on violence and not enough on the improvements soldiers are making there.
With files from the Canadian Press


entourage: eric

here's eric's character spot. i'm already suffering from entourage withdrawal. i may have to check myself into a clinic, because i can't stop watching the episodes. i have a problem.


canadian solider mistakenly kills afghan police officer

Canadians, Afghans at odds over killing of officer
Local forces ignored warnings: military

Graeme Smith
From Monday's Globe and Mail

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — An angry split emerged between Canadian and Afghan forces in a key district west of Kandahar city this weekend as they disagreed about the circumstances in which Canadian soldiers killed an Afghan police officer and injured six other people.

Soldiers fired twice on Saturday at vehicles they mistook for approaching enemies in the barren desert under the midday sun.

The Canadian military expressed deep regret after discovering that the troops had attacked Afghan security forces, their biggest allies in the fight against Taliban insurgents in the country's violent south.

But Canadian officials said the soldiers had reacted properly to a perceived threat, as the Afghans drove toward a Canadian artillery position about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar city at high speed in unmarked vehicles, carrying weapons but wearing local clothing.
The military says the Afghans continued to speed toward the Canadians' makeshift camp, despite warnings, and responded to warning shots by returning fire at the Canadians around 12:20 p.m. local time.
No Canadians were injured as the Afghans were quickly overwhelmed by a flurry of bullets, leaving one dead and four injured. A similar scenario repeated itself just 45 minutes later in the same location, as Canadians shot and wounded two men later identified as police as they approached on a motorbike.
"The key issue here is that the Afghan national security forces were not in uniform," said Colonel Fred Lewis, deputy commander of the Canadian contingent in Afghanistan.

That version of events was challenged by police and government officials in Zhari district, where the shooting happened.
Afghan National Police officers caught in the Canadian gunfire were wearing standard-issue police uniforms and driving white pickup trucks marked with the word "POLICE" in green lettering on the doors, two local officials said.
"The police are very upset, because the Canadians should know our vehicles by now," Haji Kheerdin, the Zhari district chief, said yesterday in a telephone interview.
"They especially should know the vehicles they bought for us," Mr. Kheerdin added.
He said one of the pickup trucks, following behind the vehicle hit by Canadian fire, was a clearly marked, four-door white Toyota donated to the police in a ceremony earlier this summer at the Canadian reconstruction headquarters in Kandahar.
Four of the injured officers had been wearing the local shawar kameez, consisting of a knee-length shirt and baggy trousers, because they work for the National Directorate of Security -- Afghanistan's intelligence agency -- and usually dress in plainclothes for their own protection, Mr. Kheerdin said.
Responding to questions last night, the Canadian military confirmed its view that none of the Afghan casualties had been wearing uniforms and that the police vehicles were unmarked.
"I can't really comment on why we're getting contradictory stories," Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips said.
The National Investigation Service, an independent agency that examines lethal-force incidents in the military, sent officers to the scene in Zhari district little more than two hours after first reports of the shooting, LCdr. Phillips said.
The NIS is already investigating the death of a 10-year-old boy last week, after Canadian soldiers in Kandahar city opened fire on a motorcycle that approached a military cordon and failed to stop when warned.
Beyond looking at the details of the latest shooting, however, Afghan officials say they're hoping that investigators will re-examine the Canadian soldiers' use-of-force training and improve the shoddy communication links with their Afghan allies.
Reporters embedded with Canadian troops are forbidden from reporting the rules of engagement that dictate when a soldier can shoot. But local Afghans say they have noticed the Canadians seem more willing to fire warning shots at civilians since a fresh rotation of troops arrived in late summer. It's been a difficult month for the new soldiers, as they witnessed eight Canadian deaths since the beginning of August.
Mr. Kheerdin blamed the new troops' lack of familiarity with his region.
The spectacle of a pickup truck full of plainclothes Afghan police, sometimes with their faces covered, usually overloaded with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and Kalashnikov rifles, is an ordinary sight in the dangerous districts southwest of Kandahar. Local police are accustomed to roaring around the countryside at high speeds, forcing traffic to yield.
"It was a Canadian mistake, because they were in a new place," the district chief said. "They were not familiar with their surroundings."
Several other officials said the incident shows the urgent need for equipment that would allow Afghan forces to talk with their foreign counterparts. Some Afghan National Police are issued Icom or Motorola radios, but many fighting units have trouble finding enough bullets, much less communications equipment.
Police have been promised radios in Zhari district, but none have arrived. They rely instead on the Roshan mobile-phone network, which often fades out in the dusty wastelands.
"In police work, communications are very important," said a senior police official in Kandahar city. "Roshan is not enough. We need radios."


new orleans

"george bush doesn't care about black people."

an emotional kanye west uttered those words a year ago after hurricane katrina came through and laid waste to new orleans. what has changed? not much. people are still waiting for help, mostly the poor, and as it turns out, a lot of black people. it is quite sickening to see that not much has changed since the hurricane. before katrina, the polulation was at around 480,000, but now there are about half that amount. because help is so slow in coming, people are unsure as to how many of those that left will come back. and the suggestion now is that the rebuilt new orleans, will be smaller, richer and whiter.

you know, in canada, the liberals collapsed last election because of, primarily, the sponsorship scandal which was basically the misappropriation of millions of tax payer dollars in a federal program that was to boost canada's profile in quebec after the shockingly close result of the 1995 separation referendum which saw 51% saying no, while 49% said yes to separation. canadians put up with a lot of b.s. for ten years of liberal rule, and this was the final straw. but americans... they're putting canadian patience to shame.

so you have this ongoing disaster in new orleans which you'd expect to happen in a developing nation, but instead, it is happening in the united states. the government royally screwed up. so there's this, there's iraq, there's the illegal wire tapping, there's the shady oil deals, there's the whole karl rove cia leak... and the list goes on. on top of that, there are still two more years of this left. if the republicans win the next election, something is more than rotton in denmark. but then again, sometimes the biggest barrier to the democrats winning elections, are the democrats themselves. they are currently suffering from a dramatic bout of gutlessness and a shockingly mind numbling lack of passion and desire. yes, it is a little better now, but not by much.

at any rate, the below video is from the guerrilla news network and it pretty much sums up the new orleans situation. it's a song based on kanye's rant and his single, gold digger. warning: foul language.

(source1) (source2) (source 3)

(source 4)

greatest president ever.

a reporter asks george w. bush what iraq had to do with 9/11. his answer is interesting. really... how is this guy not impeached yet? greatest president ever. ever.


entourage: so the first half of the season is coming to an end, with the second half premiering sometime next year following the sopranos. it's a bit of a bummer, but at the same time, it ensures that the haitus between the end of season 3 and the beginning of season 4 will be shorter. below is the trailer to the last episode airing tonight. and below that is just a promo spot for vince. i figure over the next few days, i'll be posting the promo spots for each of the characters. that should temporarily ease the pain of not having entourage on the air for the next few months.


george w. bush is a donkey

so george w. bush and hugo chavez, president of venezuela don't like each other. that much is plain. they're sort of like the political version of paris hilton and nichole richie. there are lots of charges on both sides, the most interesting of which come from chavez himself, who claimed the u.s. government not only knew of the coup that occured against his democratically elected government in 2002, but backed it as well. and all this didn't look very good when the coup actually occured, because while the rest of the world denounced the coup, the u.s. government, the defender of democracy in the free world, said nothing immediately. chavez, of course, no stranger to staging coups himself, really doesn't like bush, and i guess the sentiment is likewise.

a lot of stuff has happened since then, including a very un-christian call for the assassination of hugo chavez by the most righteous pat robertson, host of the 700 club, who basically said: "you know, i don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he [chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, i think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." all of this is old news of course, but i stumbled onto some video that i guess has been around for a few weeks now on the internet, where chavez is officially calling george w. bush a "donkey." not only that, he calls bush by, what i can only assume is bush's upcoming marvel comics character name, "mr. danger." there's just something really bizarre about watching a grown man berate the television viewers about how much of a murdering donkey bush is. you know, instead of "mr. danger," i personally prefer, george "walker texas ranger" bush. but that would be a sleight to chuck "delta force" norris. after all, you have to respect a guy who's willing to get his ass kicked by bruce lee.

anyway, here's the clip. my favorite part is when he says "donkey" in english. good stuff.

(source 1) (source 2)


starting up your own publishing company is a real pain in the ass. i've been trying to get conquered nation press, the name of my publishing company trademarked for about a year and a half now. getting this name trademarked is not a complete necessity, especially for someone just starting out with their own guerilla/independent publishing company, but it gives peace of mind knowing that i will have creative control over the name for the next ten-fifteen years before i renew the trademark. it's been a lengthy and annoying process with no end in sight. it appears that there is a dispute between how i worded my application and how the government sees certain phrases like "press" that belong in the public domain. anyway, hopefully it will be over soon and yours truly will be in charge of a bonefied trademark. it is an expensive bonefied trademark, but worth it. seeing the logo and the name printed on my books is quite rewarding, even though i don't have a distributor yet.

the next step at this point is to finish my as yet untitled novel - formerly known as cooler than the millions - and publish it along side this is hardcore. publication takes quite a lot of effort, however, so it won't be for several months. i still have to get isbn and upc codes for the books. without those codes, no major book retailer will sell the books. i also have to design the cover for my as yet untitled project, as well as do the interior designs for both books. it's a lot of work, but very rewarding in many aspects. i have 100 percent control over everything i do, which is fantastic for a control freak like me. i actually get a kick out of chosing which kind of font to use for the interior of the books. i can write whatever i want, design the whole book from cover to cover, and stamp my name over everything. we're talking about writer, editor, photographer, interior and exterior designer... everything. you kind of start to get a big head after a while, but then you end up having to try to get your books in stores and you're brought back down to earth.

speaking of getting my books into stores, i realized i need some decent advanced buzz. so i will be starting a media blitz soon for desert sessions: an anti-corporate love story. i'll be sending free copies out to media outlets, in the hopes that someone reviews my book. as it is, if any of you bloggers out there belong to a media outlet (tv, newspapers, magazines, etc.) or know of people in the business, it would be much appreciated if you contact me, and i will send you copies.

as for my current book, as i said, i took the name off the book and rewrote the whole thing because it has become an entirely different monster. it has become very personal at times, and because of that, i could no longer continue with the same themes/title/plots, etc. i do have a title in mind, but i don't want to reveal it until i am finished the book, because i've already changed the title a couple of times now and it just seems silly to settle on something before it is done. regardless, the book is turning out quite nice. the first half of the book is really intense, while the second half is almost like a different book altogether. i can't wait to complete it.

again, as i've stated many times before, i have completed the cover to this is hardcore, but i will reveal it on this blog after i get an isbn number for the book. it's coming! that way, the image is tied to my name and trademark. rest assured, it is sexual, yet still classy and somehow, a bit unnerving at the same time. hopefully people will like it. it is certainly better than the cover for desert sessions, which you can see posted on the right-hand side of this blog.


tucker carlson can dance!

who knew that tucker carlson can dance? as you may recall, he was the brain trust from the now defunct cnn's crossfire that called canadians retarded several months back. well, it appears that the post crossfire months have been somewhat dismal for poor mr. carlson. so much so that he has now resorted to appearing on abc's dancing with the stars, a reality show that features dancers partnered with d-listed celebrities. oh tucker, when will you learn? next thing you know, we'll see bill o'reilly on fox's celebrity duets singing, "hips don't lie" with shakira.

another celebrity on the same show is joey "woah" lawrence from the tv show blossom. you know, if i were joey, and i had spent my whole adult life tied to a one word catch phrase like "woah," i would be pretty pissed that i'm sharing the stage with tucker. i mean really, when you've gone through that kind of public torture, you've sort of earned some respect, right? maybe not. rest assured, there will be some of us retarded canadians watching mr. carlson, wishing him the best. break a leg, little buddy! break a leg.

for shits and giggles, i have added the video from my original post where george from the hour dukes it out with tucker.



now, i'm a huge fan of george stroumboulopoulos. he does smart jounalism and he makes it real and surprisingly hip. he's the perfect voice to get the younger generation interested in the world and in their own country. however, a little bit of the shine on this diamond was worn off when he decided, poorly, to take on hosting duties on abc's the one: making of a star. the show was terrible, and was yanked off the air after only two episodes. it was basically a singing competition like american idol, but set more in the format of rock star: supernova. the only difference, was that the contestants seemed to have been chosen more for their looks than their talent, and abc had no idea what they were doing. they hired george, in my opinion, to be the anti-seacrest. but then they put restrictions on him, such as making him take off his nosering. you may not think that's a big deal, but it is; believe me. that was just the begining of the bad things to come. and thankfully, it ended after only two episodes.

at any rate, i just wanted to show a few older clips of what george is capable of when you let the man do what he needs to do, which is smart interviews and some witty banter. these two clips are of him interviewing al gore a couple months ago. go to the hour's website, and watch george in action. there are plenty of great clips there, from music to politics and everything in between, which makes the hour such a great show.


canadian deaths

another soldier just died in afghanistan in a suicide attack. regardless of what you or i may think about the war in afghanistan, i still feel it is important to know the names of those who are fighting and dying overseas. they are braver than i am, that's for sure.

at cbc.com, they have an ongoing list of the canadian soldiers who have fought and died in afghanistan. it's a grim list, and some might think it a bit tasteless, but it all depends on your point of view how you view such a list. you can look at it as a stats list because of how it keeps track of who died, how many got wounded, the dates the attacks happened and what kind of an attack it was. however, you get to see their faces, you get to know their names, and that's what's important.

click here for the list.

sunday bloody sunday

who knew that george w. bush could sing? curtesy of thepartyparty.com

entourage episode 33: what about bob?

only two more episodes left before entourage goes on haitus. they're advertising as if the season finale is in two episodes, but really, the season is being split with the second half airing next year to correspond with the ending of the sopranos.

this week, ari and eric try to sell the ramone's bio-pic, vince's next movie, to the studios; drama goes to shoot his tv pilot that edward burns created, and turtle and vince try to track down a pair of limited edition nike shoes.


"...muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!"

if i didn't want to see this movie badly enough, this clip solidifies it. totally respect mr. samuel l. jackson.


wire tapping illegal

u.s. district judge anna diggs taylor in detroit is the first to strike down the national security agency's wire tapping program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution. obviously, the u.s. government will appeal this, but let this be the first, in many future "fuck you" salutes to the u.s. government and their consistent illegal bastardization of international and domestic law.

here's the
article from the globe and mail:

U.S. judge orders halt to domestic spying
Associated Press

DETROIT — A U.S. federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

“Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution,” Judge Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves wiretapping conversations between people in the United States and people in other countries.

The government argued that the program is well within the President's authority but said that proving that would require revealing state secrets.

The ACLU said the state-secrets argument was irrelevant because the Bush administration had already publicly revealed enough information about the program for Judge Taylor to rule.
Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director and the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the group was “thrilled” with the ruling.

“By holding that even the president is not above the law, the court's done its duty,” she said.
The NSA had no immediate comment on the ruling.

While siding with the ACLU on the wiretapping issue, Judge Taylor dismissed a separate claim by the group over NSA's data-mining of phone records.

She said that not enough had been publicly revealed about that program to support the claim and that further litigation would jeopardize state secrets.

Ms. Beeson said the data-mining was “a minor part of our lawsuit.”


trade / half nelson

between children of men, babel, and now trade, this fall 2006/2007 seems like it will be an interesting movie season with some very interesting writing. trade, is a movie about human trafficking.

and here is the trailer for half nelson, starring ryan gosling, who i thought was very good in the much underappreciated movie, stay, about a man dealing with his impending suicide. in half nelson, he plays a young inner-city teacher who is coping with his drug addiction.


apocalypse nowish

i hate u.s. mainstream news. i try to avoid it as much as i can now. canadian mainstream news bothers me too, but at least the cbc and the globe and mail have, for the most part, stayed away from tabloid style news (i say for the most part). when fox news does stuff like this, you expect them to and you can laugh, but when the rest of the channels follow, you just want to cry. and when you find out just how many millions of people watch these "news" programs, you want to shoot yourself. you really start to feel for jon stewart and his ongoing frustration with the mainstream news in the united states.

speaking of tabloid, good on the guerilla news network for keeping track of other news going on in the world, such as this report from the bbc news website about a bombing in sri lanka, where fighting between the government and rebels flared up again. the rebels are fighting for an independent homeland for the minority tamil people. you know, when you look back on the history of the world, you'll find that it is much like a broken record... anyway, here is the bbc article below in full. and for some other alternative stories that don't involve israel, you can check out the guerilla news network. although i warn you, some of the stuff there is borderline conspiracy theorist or just plain silly; however, they do have people posting some alternative news, which is always a good thing...

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have accused government forces of bombing an orphanage, killing 61 schoolgirls and injuring 150 other children.

The rebels said the air strike took place in the rebel-controlled northern district of Mullaitivu.

The government has denied the attack, saying the air force had targeted an LTTE training camp.

Hours later, a bomb explosion in the capital Colombo killed seven people and injured 17 others.

The Tamil Tigers' military spokesman, Irasaiah Ilanthirayan, told the BBC they were not responsible for the blast.

There has been fierce fighting between government forces and Tamil Tigers in the north and east in recent days.

'A lie'

Military officials said the rebels had infiltrated the Jaffna peninsula and hit residential areas in their attacks on the army, and that the air force was attacking to support ground troops fighting rebel advances in the area.

"It is a lie to say that schoolchildren were targeted," government spokesperson Chandrapala Liyanage told the AFP news agency.

"The air force had bombed a LTTE training centre. We don't know if they had moved child soldiers there."

The Tamil Tigers said the victims, who were aged between 15 and 18, were attending a first aid seminar.

Thorfinnur Omarsson, spokesman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, told AFP it had received a complaint from the rebels and a team was on its way to investigate.

Junko Mitano, of the United Nations children's agency Unicef, told the BBC it had confirmation children had been killed in Mullaitivu.

She declined to give further details, saying a statement would be issued on Tuesday.

The government has also denied rebel accusations that its forces killed at least 15 people in an attack on a church in the predominantly Tamil village of Allaipiddy on an island just west of Jaffna.


In the Colombo blast, a powerful mine exploded near the official residence of President Mahinda Rajapakse as a convoy, including a Pakistani embassy vehicle, went past.

The Pakistani ambassador, Bashir Wali Mohamed, was returning from a flag-raising ceremony for Pakistan's Independence Day when the explosion happened. He was not injured.

Mr Mohamed told the BBC's Urdu Service he believed he was "surely the target".

He said he thought this was because of the Pakistani government's support of the Sri Lankan government in its war against terrorism.

The Tigers have ruled out peace talks with the government while heavy fighting continues between the two sides.

Aid agencies say about 100,000 people have been affected by the latest fighting - 60,000 people have fled their homes and 30,000 are trapped in the east.

Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula has seen more heavy shelling and artillery fire as government forces and the Tigers battle for control of key areas.

The recent flare-up in fighting has alarmed Sri Lanka's key foreign donors - the US, Japan, the European Union and Norway - who have called for an immediate end to the hostilities, which they said was "seriously unravelling" the 2002 ceasefire agreement.

The ceasefire aimed to halt more than two decades of war between the government and the rebels, who are fighting for an independent homeland for the country's minority Tamil people in the north and east.

It remains officially in effect, despite months of violence.


a ceasefire is holding, and both hezbollah and israel are citing victory. because, of course, wanton destruction by both sides and a thousand people officially dead (most of those lebanese civilians) is a call for victory. if that's a victory, what the heck is a defeat?
here's something from the globe and mail:

Both sides declare victory in Lebanon war

Associated Press

BEIRUT — The leaders of Israel and Hezbollah each declared his side the winner Monday in their month-long war. But Israel's Ehud Olmert now faces challenges from rivals at home, while Hezbollah's Sheik Hassan Nasrallah may have gained ground in Lebanon.

Mr. Olmert told the Israeli parliament that the offensive had changed the strategic balance, ending the “state within a state” run by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. He said most of the guerrillas' arsenal of weapons was destroyed.

But he immediately faced criticism from political opponents who said the onslaught had failed to wipe out the Shiite militant guerrilla movement. The criticism could build to a point where it threatens Mr. Olmert's government.

Under the terms of the ceasefire, Lebanese troops and a beefed-up international force are to deploy in southern Lebanon, a step that will effectively end Hezbollah's years-long domination of the area and make it more difficult for the guerrillas to attack northern Israel.
It's a step that Hezbollah had long resisted, backed by its allies in the Lebanese government and its patrons Syria and Iran U.S. President George W. Bush said the guerrillas had suffered a sound defeat, citing the international force. “Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis,” he told a Washington press conference. “There's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon.”
But the guerrilla army has not been eliminated — and the real extent of damage to its arsenal is not known. Meanwhile, its popularity has grown in Lebanon and swelled enormously across the Arab world for putting up the toughest fight Israel's war machine has ever faced.
“We came out victorious in a war in which big Arab armies were defeated,” Mr. Nasrallah said in a televised speech Monday. “We are today before a strategic, historic victory, without exaggeration.”
Moments after his speech ended, celebratory gunfire erupted across the Lebanese capital.
He quickly sought to put down domestic pressure for his movement to disarm, scolding Lebanese critics for bringing up the issue.
“This is immoral, incorrect and inappropriate,” he said, underlining that the Shiite community that forms the backbone of Hezbollah support had made “the most sacrifice” in the battle and that critics shouldn't disturb the national unity behind his movement.
He also moved to blunt any resentment over the vast devastation wreaked in an Israeli campaign sparked by Hezbollah's snatching of two Israeli soldiers on July 12. He said Hezbollah members on Tuesday would fan out across the south to help rebuild shattered homes and said the group — which is believed to receive large amounts of money from Iran — would help people to pay rent and buy furniture until their homes are rebuilt.
Mr. Nasrallah defended Hezbollah's arsenal, saying he could “proudly claim” that Israel now understood that future conflict “will not be a picnic. It will be very costly.”
Hezbollah will likely find it more difficult to replenish its weaponry in the south. The Lebanese army long turned a blind eye to shipments of weapons from Syria, but they will now have international troops watching over them.
Hezbollah's opponents in the Lebanese government have pressed behind the scenes for the guerrillas to be disarmed, and the presence of the UN force will boost their demands. But Nasrallah, whose movement has two members in the cabinet, can call on strengthened Shiite support to resist the pressure.
In Jerusalem, Mr. Olmert anticipated that another war with Hezbollah could come in the future, saying his government would review “deficiencies” in the way the war was conducted to “do better” next time.

“We will continue to pursue them everywhere and at all times,” he said. “We have no intention of asking anyone's permission.”

He advised patience for his critics who believe that the war fell short of Israel's original goal of dismantling Hezbollah.

“We don't plan to apologize,” he said.


the mechanics of writing

there are a few things i would like to talk about in this section: boring writing, foregone conclusions, and writing what you know.

1) writing should never be boring. as a writer, if you find that you end up writing something that you find tedious or boring, but you have to write it because it fills a plot hole, you might want to revisit it. the reason being, if you find it boring to write, the reader will find it boring to read. this means that sometimes you need to change your plot to close the holes, or you need to find a more interesting or different way of writing the piece. i firmly believe that you shouldn't include anything in a book or story unless it fills the basic requirement of being entertaining to some degree. in the end, it has to keep the reader invested, and you don't want to write something that will draw the reader out by making them yawn or lose interest.

that being said, you need to write scenes sometimes that serve the purpose of furthering the plot or filling a hole; these scenes you may feel are necessary, but really, they aren't. i have often forsaken plot details because i myself couldn't make the scene interesting, or couldn't be bothered to make it interesting. for example, if i have a police investigation going on in the book, it always happens in the background; i never directly write about police procedures because i find them boring and really, i'm too lazy to do the research, so i always leave it in the background. the reader knows it is going on, but it's just not that important really until the outcome. what's more important and more interesting to me is how the characters behave. for example, in my latest book, there is a terrorist organization, but i never bother to write about any investigation or anything like that; you know it is going on, to stop these guys. it's just not that important to me. what is more important is how the characters react in the wake of the terorrism. their fears, their anxieties, their loves and losses.

2) the ending should never be a foregone conclusion. that is not to say that you need to have surprise endings all the time; it's just that even if the ending is a no-brainer, the reader should still feel like there is the possibility of something more. and really, should should be giving the reader something more by this time. after all, it is 2006; today's readers are a little smarter so you need to be able to provide some sort of insight at least by the time your conclusion comes around. in my case, i like to change things up all the time. usually 2/3rds of any book i write will go one way, and then the last third will go a completely different way, yet still feel a part of the book and it will not feel forced or contrived. by the end of the book, the story will have come fullcircle. at least, that is the goal. to this date, the best comments that i have recieved of anything that i have written, are the ones where the reader has said that they wanted to see how the book ended.

3) writing what you know is always best. even when writing a genre spy thriller, if you can inject bits and pieces of your personal life into it, the book will be much better because of it. by injecting pesonal bits, you are personally investing into the book. it won't be just another book for you; it will be something important to you, and therefore it will resonate more with the readers. believe me, it works. in my case, this current book that i am writing, formerly called cooler than the millions, was lacking a lot in the personal department. so i had to scrap most of it. it just wasn't working. however, i started inserting parts of my own life into it, much like i did for my previous books and it started working much better. it read better to me. it felt better to me. as a result, the whole dynamic of the book has changed to the point where i have had to change the title to it simply being a working title, because i'm sure it will change again by the time the book is finished.

one of the things i did to make the book more pesonal, was basically model one of the characters, the female lead, sean, on a girl i knew and was very much nearly in love with. i say nearly, because she never gave me the chance to realize the potential of what a possible relationship with her could have been like. let's just say that i would have done anything for her. so i based sean on her, and the result is much better. yeah, there are lots of things the character does and gets into that this real life girl would never get herself into, but that's not the point; the point is to blend a bit of fact into fiction, which results in a much more blended character portrait. did it hurt to revisit these feelings? yes. was it worth it? i think so. not only has sean's character changed because of it, but so has the character of john and the way his relationship is with her, as well as the whole second half of the book. i ended up using lots of personal things, such as pretty much word for word a voicemail she left me one time, or conversations we've had together. does it mean anything to the reader? probably not. does it mean something to me? definitely. and this effects the whole book, which hopefully in turn effects the reader in a positive way.

at first i was going to do a very cold, realpolitik book (influenced heavily by the 1980's), however, now that sean is basically this girl i had intense feelings for, the whole book has taken on a warmth to the second half that wasn't originally there. i realized that despite it all, my feelings for this girl have changed. at the time i was left cold and bitter, but as time passed by, despite the soreness that is still there, i now have a genuine warmth and good will towards her. this means the book has taken on some incredibly warm moments and a genuinely good ending. however, like all the endings for my books, it totally depends on how you read the book. for example, some who read desert sessions felt the ending was really depressing, while others saw it as a bit positive. personally, i wrote the book with a very neutral ending which totally fit the main character. this book, however, should leave some readers even more confused, while others completely firm in their interpretation of the book. hopefully it will work out well. in the end, for good or ill, this girl has become my muse. i don't know if she'll be flattered or annoyed at my using her likeness, but at this point, it doesn't matter, because as a writer, you sort of end up using everything and anything in your arsenal. sometimes that means raiding your friends and neighbors for inspiration. hopefully, though, in the end, you do them justice.

is it a bit dangerous to make it so personal? yes. you're leaving yourself open to being attacked. not only that, but you also leave yourself open to those previous feelings you had that you may have locked away, but now must relive them. but as far as suffering goes for art's sake, i'd say that's a pretty small contribution compared to the actual suffering in the world. you just have to have perspective and believe that what you have to say is important enough to say. after all, we're not talking about prison time or persecution of any sort; we're just talking about a little bit of heart-ache, which i believe benefits art, whatever kind it is.

here is a little section i wrote of john looking upon sean for the first time. it is, to my recollection, the most accurate physical and emotional representation of this girl and what i saw in her the first few moments of knowing her. i shall actually be putting up the first dozen or so pages of the book in a while once i get further into the writing.

He watches her, Sean, moving amongst the crowd smoothly, consistently. As if on ice. He watches the expressions on her face, or lack there of sometimes; how she could seem a bit cold at times, expressionless. Her finely sculpted cheek bones, her frosty blue eyes that would examine you lazily from under finely plucked eyebrows, razor thin. Her blank looks made you feel she was indifferent to you; stuck up. Like you didn’t matter. Non-existent. But then there would be that moment when all of a sudden there is a burst of expression and affection in her face, how she’d laugh and those fine eyebrows would arch upward and her eyes would emote all that she is, burning away the frost. If only for a brief moment. And how confident she seemed; to know everything at such a young age. How despite some extra weight in certain areas, she is not self conscious at all. Like she is in complete ownership of every square inch of her flesh.

she seems like a stuck-up, cold girl, right? well, that's because she often did come across like that, but as i wrote, there was an incredible warmth to her that would bubble up on rare occassions. and here is another section where john is thinking about sean. he's thinking about her and says how he was floored when he first saw her, which is very true. first time i saw her, when i walked into the room, for the first two hours, i didn't know where i was, what i was doing, or where i was going. completely floored me. the goal here is to portray those feelings, those emotions that a regular guy would feel towards the girl of his dreams: the lust, the desire, all of it. and here, john recollects this feeling as if from a dream:

And as John lies there, his thoughts always eventually turn to her. Her strawberry blond hair. Gravity tugging at her large tits as she bends over. Her heart-shaped ass spreading. Pieces of her. Like an amputee jigsaw puzzle. And he thinks of how hard she is. A diamond. Sometimes she shines and sometimes she glimmers. But she’s almost always cold, built like ice, like frozen, like less than zero. It’s frustrating enough to ignite your skull. Woosh. But giving up is not an option. That’s the problem with desire. It endures. Outlasting even hope. He says slowly: The first time I saw her… I was floored.


property. oh how i hate thee. i have always contended that property, whether the direct or indirect control of it through proxies, has been the underlying reason for any war ever fought. property is something that has been the bane of mankind's existence, or at least the desire to own it has. property is something where, if you have it, you pride yourself on it, but you get jealous if someone else has more or better property than you do. it's a status thing masked as a rights thing but it's all just bullshit posteuring. i mean, why can't we just share? of course, some property is more important than others: just ask the palestinians or the Israelis. and I concede that. but to me, it just doesn't seem worth it to condemn your life, the lives of your children, and their children, and so on to generations of violence and retribution and hatred. but i'm not religious, i'm not into property, and i live in an already free country, so i guess my opinion counts for just what it is and nothing more: an opinion.

canada is currently in a bit of a property tug of war right now over the northwest passage, which will no doubt be opening up due to climate change (re: global warming that no politician seems to believe in, especially american ones), and this will become a huge economic lead in for any country that controls the northwest passage. by all rights, if you follow the international rules of the 200 nautical mile limits, canada should have a rightful claim over said passage, but of course since economics are involved, and the potential for great wealth, countries like the united states are claiming otherwise. so now you see canadians doing military exercices up there to exert sovereignty.

now, there won't be an actual war over the northwest passage, but you can bet there will be court rulings. many of them. the legal battle will make the softwood legal battle look like a movie of the week in comparison. the americans knew they were wrong on the softwood lumber side, and they kept losing; repeatedly in the courts, but they kept going at it to stretch it out as long as they could, to help their own lumber producers a little while longer before they lost the edge. but the americans won't roll over so easily on this. anyway, here's an article from the globe and mail (the only worthwhile paper in all of canada by the way. the rest are just rags) about harper strutting up there in the north:

Harper stresses Arctic sovereignty

Canadian Press

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Enforcing Canadian sovereignty in the rich offshore waters of the Arctic is a priority because of the vast economic potential of the Far North, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Saturday.

While some countries, most notably the United States, do not recognize Canada's claim to Arctic waters, Mr. Harper promised during his first visit to the North that Canada will enforce and defend its sovereignty in the region.

"This will become more important in the decades to come because northern oil and gas, minerals and other resources of the northern frontier will become ever more valuable," Mr. Harper told hundreds of residents, politicians and military personnel who came out to greet him at the Nunavut legislature.

Some scientists believe the effects of climate change could open the Northwest Passage, which links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, to year-round shipping in as little as a decade.

The Northwest Passage is 7,000 kilometres shorter than the current shipping route through the Panama Canal.

Tiny, barren Hans Island in the Arctic Ocean has already been the subject of a diplomatic scuffle with Denmark, as countries awaken to the economic potential of the region.

"The economics and the strategic value of northern resource development are growing more attractive and critical to our nation," Mr. Harper said.

"And trust me, it's not only Canadians who are noticing. It's no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity in the Arctic has never been more urgent."

A major military operation just finished in the Beaufort Sea, while a joint military exercise is getting underway in the northernmost reaches of Canada's claimed 200-nautical-mile — or 370-kilometre — exclusive economic zone in the eastern Arctic.

Mr. Harper said the northern ocean should not be treated differently from the Atlantic or Pacific, where Canada's 200-mile limit is undisputed.

He promised an increased military presence in the North, as well as continued lobbying of the U.S. and other countries that have not yet ratified the international treaty recognizing the exclusive economic zone.

"We think we can make a strong case to the United States that Canada asserting fully its sovereignty is actually in the interests of the entire international community, including the United States itself," Mr. Harper said after speaking to the legislature.

"In the meantime, we continue to take steps to visibly protect and defend our sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic."

Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik welcomed Harper's visit — and his promise of more federal spending.

"I'd love to see more infrastructure so we can stimulate our economy in terms of mineral development and oil and gas," Mr. Okalik said.

But there was no word on the location of a promised deep-sea port that has been the subject of intense lobbying by all three territorial governments.

Duane Smith, president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, also welcomed the promise of sovereignty over Arctic waters.

"Climate change is easing shipping access to the Northwest Passage and the Arctic Ocean, and is promoting further exploration for oil, gas, and minerals in the North," Mr. Smith said in a statement.

Foreign shipping could pose a threat to that sovereignty, he said.

The prime minister was to visit the military base in Alert, Nunavut, on Sunday before heading to Yellowknife and Whitehorse later in the week.



last week they went to vegas to judge a stripper contest, but ended up getting into a big brawl with another actor and his posse.

this sunday, it looks like they're back to work, looking for a job for vince.


can a whole superpower shoot itself in its own foot?

the united states has fucked itself. well, the u.s. government has, and there seems to be no recovery in sight.

on terror: the u.s. government chose to take up a policy of pre-emptive strikes against terrorist organizations or countries/governments that chose to harbour or aid said terrorists. this was part of their reasoning for going into iraq. (the other being weapons of mass destruction, and later on, they resorted to the news-friendly humanitarian rights issues once weapons were never found). now that israel seems to have adopted the same policy against hezbollah, all calls for a ceasefire by the united states seem pretty hollow.

on embryonic stem-cell research: mr. bush, the texas ranger himself, decided to veto a bill that would lift current restrictions on stem cell research. research that may one day help millions of people with various diseases; research on embryos that were never going to become children in the first place because they were being thrown out. in five years time, the u.s. medical community will find itself far behind foreign competitors, and the american people will suffer for the short-sightedness of the bush administration, if they haven't already.

on iraq: the iraq war is officially a quagmire to the u.s. government, and a horror to the people of iraq. the u.s. government screwed up here in many ways. 1) they said they were in iraq on humanitarian issues, to save the iraqi people from saddam. this rationale, of course, was coughed up after the whole al-qaeda link/weapons of mass destruction stuff didn't pan out. then the u.s. government indluges in torture (abu ghraib) and holds prisoners as "unlawful combatants" instead of prisoners of war, thus bypassing the geneva conventions, at guantanamo bay. those that have been tried, have been so through military tribunals, something that the u.s. supreme court has said was illegal. the supreme court also said that the geneva conventions applied to those being held in guantanamo bay, which prompted the bush administration to conceed that they were now prisoners of war. now, after all that's gone on with issues of torture and humiliation, the u.s. government has drafted amendments to the war crimes act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees. this is basically like protecting yourself from something you did wrong, without admitting you did anything wrong. the u.s. has officially lost the right to call into question anybody else's human rights records. i bet the chinese government is just loving this.

2) the u.s. government made it seem like the united nations was useless and unnecessary when trying to get authorization to go to war with iraq. when the united nations wouldn't go their way, they basically went ahead and did their thing anyway. now that north korea is making tonnes of noise about nuclear weapons, and firing off their own missiles, all that the u.s. government can do is to turn to the united nations and the international community to get help on this. why don't they just invade north korea? oh, right... even though north korea is basically saying they have weapons of mass destruction, the u.s. can't invade north korea because of the following reasons: a) north korea has a 1 million strong standing army. what the iraq war has shown is that you need troops on the ground to win a war. it doesn't matter how much hardware and fancy technology you have: without troops on the ground, you won't win. north korea would crush american troops without aid from other countries over the long haul and the bush administration knows it, which is why they haven't gone in guns-a-blazin'. b) the u.s. is currently fighting the war on terror in iraq and afghanistan, both of which there are good chances they will lose at. they can't even properly fight the wars they are currently in, let alone afford another one with a country with ten times the soldiers. in the end, the u.s. can talk all it wants, but unless they get agreement from other countries on some sort of embargo, the north koreans will continue to make noise until they actually prove they have the atom bomb. by then, it will be too late. the u.s. government handcuffed themselves on this issue by going to war in iraq, which was the wrong country to go to war with in the first place.

3) u.s. soldiers, in future conflicts, will be in dire straights. with all that has gone on with the treatment of p.o.w's by the u.s. government, and their refusal to sign onto the international criminal court, the u.s. government has just ensured that any u.s. soldier caught in any sort of battle in the future may face problems getting the proper treatment they are legally entitled to. the u.s. had initially dictated who falls under the geneva conventions and who doesn't. what's stopping another country from doing the exact same thing?

on 9/11: after 9/11, the united states had somethng that was unprecedented in the world: world-wide sympathy and support for a superpower. the only superpower. the u.s. was in a unique position to change the whole goddamned world. on issues of international law, on war, on international communication and information sharing, on a whole variety of issues, the u.s. had clout to make something happen. but they didn't. the bush administration chose to follow greed and self interest instead. years from now, historians will write that george w. bush ushered in the beginning of the end of the american empire. no longer an honest voice for democracy or for human rights, the u.s. has begun its steady downfall. how do you know that a superpower is about to collapse? it's when that said power resorts to force to change the world instead of the power of its beliefs and culture.

can things be changed? maybe. can things be fixed? maybe. maybe with the right leader, the right circumstances, the right olive branch... but that's a lot of maybe's. what the u.s. government has done with its foreign and domestic policies, is to ensure that those that hated the u.s., hate the u.s. even more, and those that were on the fence, now hate the u.s. they have also ensured that the american people live in a society that is afraid to progress beyond its stifled religious beliefs. all this just makes you wish for the days of bill clinton, where he would lie about getting a blow job instead of lying about why he started a war.

at any rate, what i am saying is that 9/11 was a test, for the strongest nation in the world, to make a real difference, and all of that seems a bit lost right now. that tremendous grief and desire to do good could have been turned into some real change, some real strength. instead, mistakes ensued, with a selfish, greedy government and an american people too captured by fear to know any better. here is a video of jon stewart and his first show post 9/11. it is a classy, incredibly intelligent and heart-felt speach that emotes all that could have been possible in the wake of 9/11. the fear is there, but so is the hope and the belief that things will be well. well, things aren't terribly well right now. but we can still hope. hope that things won't get worse, and that the american people will chose better next time around. obviously they didn't know the first time around, but by now, i believe there is a chance to redeem themselves and hold their leaders accountable for their actions. sometimes i think that the whole world should be allowed to vote for the president of the united states of america. there is just too much riding on it. i really hope every american understands the power of their vote, this birth-given right that is a luxury to a lot of people in the world. other people's lives depend on it; not just american ones.

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