when the status quo frustrates.

Paid Killers

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Hugo has a post up about pacifism, which apparently is not a concept I’ve understood very well all these years. I thought pacifism was defined as the philosophical opposition to war or perhaps to the idea of initiating violence–after all, there are religious pacifists who have served in the armed forces–but in any case, I clearly missed the point. This is the paragraph that Hugo quotes to define what he means when he refers to himself as a pacifist:

I mentioned in my post on Monday that I hoped that if it came to it, I would be willing to take a bullet for “my kids.” But I would not be willing to fire a bullet, even to protect the lives of my students or youth groupers.*

I would be willing to fire that bullet; I’m not a pacifist, though I do despise nations going to war for any reason other than self-defense or after being entreated by another nation that was attacked to aid that nation in its self-defense. But it did get me thinking about the actual act of killing another human being.


We are the eggmen

Friday, February 20th, 2009

…and Humpty Dumpty built the wall.

Over some very valid objections, Haruki Murakami decided to travel to Israel and accept the Jerusalem Prize. His speech really resonated with some thoughts I’ve been having lately. If you’re a fan of his work, the whole thing is well worth reading. Here is a short excerpt.

This is not to say that I am here to deliver a political message. To make judgments about right and wrong is one of the novelist’s most important duties, of course. …

Please do, however, allow me to deliver one very personal message. It is something that I always keep in mind while I am writing fiction. I have never gone so far as to write it on a piece of paper and paste it to the wall: Rather, it is carved into the wall of my mind, and it goes something like this: 

“Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” 

Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be? 


Happiness Is

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Obama reverses abortion-funding policy

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Obama signed an executive order Friday striking down a rule prohibiting U.S. money from funding international family planning groups that promote abortion or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion services.

The order comes the day after the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

It reverses the “Mexico City policy,” initiated by President Reagan in 1984, canceled by President Clinton and reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Obama signs order to close Guantanamo Bay facility

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Promising to return America to the “moral high ground” in the war on terrorism, President Obama issued three executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration, including one requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year.

During a signing ceremony at the White House, Obama reaffirmed his inauguration pledge that the United States does not have “to continue with a false choice between our safety and our ideals.”

US Senate passes wage discrimination bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A wage discrimination bill that heralds the pro-labor policies of the Democratic-controlled Congress and White House cleared the Senate Thursday and could be on President Barack Obama’s desk within days.

The legislation reverses a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that narrowly defines the time period during which a worker can file a claim of wage discrimination, even if the worker is unaware for months or years that he or she is getting less than colleagues doing the same job. It has been a priority for women’s groups seeking to narrow the wage gap between men and women.

The House is expected to act quickly to again approve the measure, sending it to Obama for his signature. The House passed a nearly identical version two weeks ago but then combined it with another bill that the Senate didn’t consider.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that “the first bill that President Obama will sign will be this piece of legislation.” He said the bill would send an important message because “this administration stands for equality and fairness.”

Obama strongly backs the measure and invited Lilly Ledbetter, the retired Alabama tire company worker whose lawsuit inspired the legislation, to accompany him on the train trip bringing him to Washington for the inauguration.

I will not dance to your war drum

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

So I’ve been gone awhile. Work managed to swallow my life, and it’s a long story, but…I will be back in due time.

But I’m back today to break my silence, because today Israeli tanks entered Gaza after air strikes that killed 400 or so people just weren’t enough.

Across the world, people protested. Here’s Toronto’s demo:


It went on much longer than this: thousands and thousands of people. But it isn’t enough.

This is what’s happening. Right now. And while a little over half of Israelis support what their government is doing, only 19% think that a ground invasion is a good idea.

We, here in the West, are complicit. Canada was the first country to refuse to recognize the results of the Palestinian election, after all, the first to cut aid in 2006. And the U.S., of course, largely funds the weapons currently raining down on the people of Gaza. We perpetuate this horror, or, rather, our governments do, and I don’t know any course of sane action beyond taking to the streets and screaming at them until they stop.

Suheir Hammad:

Another taser horror story

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Mounties use tasers to sexually assault an aboriginal child. And get away with it.

Predictably, the article doesn’t call it sexual assault. But what does this sound like to you?

The girl, who was 16 at the time of the incident, said she was held down by four officers, one for each limb, while a taser was used on her legs and groin area. She said the third shock lasted between five and eight seconds and left her screaming in pain.

This is after they stripped her naked and threw her in a cell. It gets worse:

The girl, who is a high-school student, said her wounds were painful for days. The taser broke the skin, leaving red and bloody circular marks on her thighs. The police didn’t tell the girl’s mother about the incident when she picked her up the next morning, and the girl was too ashamed to tell. As a result, the wounds became infected.

Anyway, as is usually the case with these sorts of gross human rights violations—particularly in cases that involve racialized youth—the cops investigated themselves and found themselves innocent of any wrongdoing.

The Globe and Mail‘s pathetic excuse? She was “behaving badly.” Sickening.


Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Folks, the internet has been won.

Background: Something Awful commentators react to recently-released footage of then 16-year-old Omar Khadr being cruelly interrogated by Canadian officials at Guantanamo. Their reactions range from sympathetic to death threats—these soft children of privilege who never leave the comfort of their parents’ basement, let alone face unending hell in an illegal American gulag.

Anyway. GvB responds by baking cookies for the torture apologists.

Here’s the cookies being scooped out onto the sheet just before they head into the oven. I really like Anolon jelly-roll baking sheets because they seem to heat evenly and the high sides make them useful for a lot of baking tasks, but none of you would know that because you feed like animals from a trough of violent sensationalist news and glory in the abuse of fundamental human rights. You discuss the semantics of what it means to truly torture a person as if you had the faintest inkling of what it means to suffer. Mercy is foreign to you. You are ignorant savages so far removed from principles of human decency that if you were suddenly thrust into the resurrected presence of the framers of the Constitution, they would immediately begin spewing blood from every orifice and their souls would yearn for the grave. :)

You need to read the whole thing, because there are pictures. And also, delicious, delicious cookies.

Lisa’s Friday War Protest Video

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Happy Fourth of July! I’ll be on the National Mall in DC watchin’ the fireworks against the glorious backdrop of the Washington Phallus. Don’t even pretend like you’re not jealous.

“Dick is a Killer” by DJ RX. Gotta love it.

Lisa’s Friday War Protest Video

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Metallica’s first video ever!

I post this in recognition of the 900-plus soldiers who have had to have at least one major amputation in the last five years as a direct result of serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

Wait, this isn’t from the Onion? Fuck.

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Yet another set of relics from the post-satire age:

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As the keychain says, truly “It don’t GITMO better than this.”

Welcome to “Taliban Towers” at Guantanamo Bay, the most ghoulishly distasteful tourist destination on the planet. As these astonishing mementoes show, the US authorities are promoting the world’s most notorious prison camp as a cheap hideaway for American sunseekers — a revelation that has drawn international anger and condemnation.

Just yards from the shelves of specially branded mugs and cuddly toys, nearly 300 “enemy combatants” lie sweltering in a waking nightmare.

It is six years since foreign prisoners, many captured in Afghanistan, were first taken to this US-occupied corner of Cuba. Yet even now, no charges have been brought against them.

While the detainees lie incarcerated, visitors can windsurf, take boat trips and go fishing for grouper, tuna, red snapper and swordfish.

Hey, in all fairness, if you want to take your family out for a little dunk in the water, does it really matter if there’s a few detainees getting their own “dunk in the water” a few hundred feet away? Where is the line where it’s magically OKAY to start having fun? One mile away? 50 miles? (Don’t say 500 miles, or you’re already to Miami.)


THE PRESS! Hunh! Good God! What is it good for? ABSOLUTELY NOTHIN’! Say it again…

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

At least not so much lately in America. Of course, cynics would say that, by merely parroting the propaganda of the powerful, they are doing PRECISELY their job, because that’s what they’re kept around for in the first place. And, well, I guess the cynics would probably be right. But appearances of speaking truth to power must be kept up, and so occasionally some journalists are let off their leash for a little bit to retrieve a juicy story.

And so, although it appears this is Punkassblog Beat-on-the-Press Day, I thought I’d just be a contrarian and point out that there is one big American press chain bucking the trend: McClatchy Newspapers. Now, granted, they’re nowhere as big as AP, but they’re no small potatoes either.

What’s got to be the biggest thing working in their favor was that they were the only major newspaper group who consistently criticized the Bush Administration’s rationales for war prior to the invasion of Iraq. (Well, actually, Knight-Ridder was, but McClatchy bought Knight-Ridder two years ago, and the same staff continues to work for them.)

Now maybe McClatchy doesn’t always manage to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”, as the trope about the press goes, but they certainly have their moments.

Just the other day, they featured this story about the response in Iraq to the complete lack of punishment to seven of the eight US marines charged in the three-year-old Haditha massacre. In which nobody denies that they killed 24 innocent civilians, male and female, of all ages from toddler to elderly.

Iman Waleed recounts the killing of seven members of her family that occurred on Nov. 19, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq.

Iman Waleed lost everyone in her family save her little brother. The 12-year-old tells the story quickly and matter-of-factly now. She’s told it at least 20 times to journalists, investigators and human rights groups.

“The Americans came in and they entered through the kitchen door. My father was in the room reading the Quran and they shot him,” she says in a monotone voice, her green eyes looking at the floor.


Rape is a war crime.

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Yellow ribbon. Caption: 'our troops rape'

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously declared that rape is a weapon of war. My first thought upon hearing this was “yay!” My second thought was that perhaps “yay” is not the right response to anything pertaining to rape; in any event, thinking about the news even now stirs a dull pang of hope.

Reiterating deep concern that, despite its repeated condemnation of violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict, including sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, and despite its calls addressed to all parties to armed conflict for the cessation of such acts with immediate effect, such acts continue to occur, and in some situations have become systematic and widespread, reaching appalling levels of brutality,United Nations Security Council Resolution 1820

This shouldn’t be shocking or mind-blowing. Perhaps my response is a result of setting the bar so low that even the shoddiest expression of respect for women’s autonomy can’t help but trip over it. But it is shocking. Mind-blowing. All in the most fantastic way. The articles read ever-so-slightly like dispatches from an alternate universe, one where the UNSC is a powerful force for improving human rights, where rape is non-controversially regarded as systemic, institutionalized, and oppressive, where the U.S. Secretary of State, a black woman, says things like, “We cannot forget as we examine this issue other women activists who struggle for freedom under violent environments,” and “As an international community we have a special responsibility to punish perpetrators of sexual violence who are representatives of international organisations.”

International organisations. Like, for example, the U.N.

Or the U.S. military.


Lisa’s Friday War Protest Video

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

In honor of the newest PUNKASSBLOGGER, Quin! Who sent me this link. It is from Iraq’s only heavy metal band, and for that reason alone I wanna promote it. Also, it ain’t too bad in of itself. Enjoy!

Note: Requests and suggestions for the Friday War Protest Video are always welcome! and will only be rejected if the video just really sucks butt. And even then I will still send you a nice thank-you note.