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Jaks View from Vancouver

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

I'll be on short rations for the computer until August 11th; we are gone up to the glorious village of Nakusp to meditate on Arrow Lake. The local Internet cafe will alllow me to keep up-to-date with the tallies for Palestine Daily Log, but I suspect other items will be few and far between.

See you all again in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Palestine Daily Log

Israel has proven many times in the past that it can use surgical precision across the globe to take out an enemy (ask the relatives of the Munich Olympics' killers, if you don't believe me.) The heavy-handed death and destruction visited on innocent Palestinian children last week must therefore be seen as deliberate. And, indeed, there has been considerable recognition in many quarters that this recent murderous attack by the IOF in Gaza, closely followed by further military incursions into Palestinian territory, is Ariel Sharon’s way of disrupting negotiations that seemed to be leading to a ceasefire.

Sharon cannot afford to have peace discussions get to the point where the US will have to acknowledge them. So, every time they get close, as now, he has to strike with death and destruction to re-create the tensions he needs to carry out his long term plan to annex the entire region and commit wholesale ethnic cleansing. As Yoel Marcus has written:
"[Sharon] has brought us to the point where the number of Israelis who have died in the Intifada is fast approaching the number of fallen in Israel's most glorious military triumph, the Six-Day War. Without peace, without security, Sharon is dragging us into an existential and moral abyss, just so he can achieve his goals of staying in the territories and staying in power."
None of this unknown to the Americans, of course. But Sharon's murdrerous course fits well with the corporate needs of America Imperium, and he will continue to be backed aggresively until the entire region of the Middle East is either Israel or tarmac.

Every day, it seems, there are reports of yet more settlements being built or expanded in the occupied portions of Palestine. Every day it looks more and more like the genocidal ethnic clearances that made the land west of the Mississippi ready for "civilization". No wonder the Americans are on side.

Yesterday, four Israeli civilian-settlers were killed in attacks by Palestinian gunmen near Hebron. Today, the settlers took their revenge and killed a 14-year old Palestinian girl. From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (10am PDT July 28th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,612. In the same period, 562 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 701 Palestinians and 313 Israelis have been killed.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Yes, Let's Dump NATO!

That irascible rightwinger John Braue has called for the extinction of NATO. Of course, being an irascible old rightwinger, Braue gets both the reasons and the results entirely wrong. Still, his basic idea is correct.

I offered my own assessment some months ago regarding the current NATO situation in which the USA uses the alliance to pursue its own megalomanical projects. Time to read it again, perhaps.

[I suspect that Blogger's permanent links are failing again. Please go to America Imperium and see the article dated 28th April, 2002]

Friday, July 26, 2002

A Question About The 2nd Amendment

This is an honest attempt to discover some information from those readers who have an especial interest in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I have just read that a man in Georgia has been arrested for possession of 600 hand grenades. I am also aware that it would be an offense for anyone, outside the U.S. military, to have a nuclear weapon in their garage.

The exact wording of the U.S. 2nd Amendment is as follows:
"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Where in that Amendment is the line drawn between, say, a hand gun and 600 hand grenades? Or a ground-to-air missile? How do strict constructionist draw a line? Or do they?

Serious question. I'd like to understand.

Poetry: "Exchanges"

Needle exchanges
are just
stock exchanges really

stock exchanges
for those
those on the

like over-stretched
in a bare market

leveraged hedges and
currency options
no different
than heroin from opium

stock exchanges
are just
needle exchanges
juicing up
a different

(c) 1998 Jak King

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Palestine Daily Log

Just a couple of days after the Israeli regime of Ariel Sharon murders ten infants, the US government rewards them with a gift of an extra $200 million that the regime can spend on anything it chooses -- such as more one-ton bombs. Yet again, the Bush Administration majors in good timing.

University Professor Ur Shlonsky has written an important piece about the fundamental racism that informs the whole of the Israeli State.
"Israel Shahak once remarked that for at least the last 200 years, Jews have demanded equal rights in every country in which they’ve lived – with the remarkable exception of Israel, the Jewish state.1 Israel has always founded its institutions on the denial of equality to non-Jews. From the beginning, a good half a century before 1948 when the state of Israel was established, Zionist ideology has held strict opposition to equality for non-Jews as a fundamental principle."
After describing Israeli's fixation with careful ethnic enumeration, Shlonsky remarks:
"We find a troubling parallel between the Israeli preoccupation with demographic data on ethnicity and religion and that of Rwanda before the ethnic cleansing of 1994, as described by Alison Des Forges. Des Forges argues that the existence of relatively precise data on the demographic distribution of Tutsis was a factor that facilitated 'the most rapid genocide in modern history'. One is also led to think of the [Nazi] Wannsee protocols...

"What is the purpose of the opposition Jew/non-Jew? In the first place, it serves as the basis of a broad discriminatory legislation ...

"The principal and explicit aim of the Zionist program and practice is to increase the number of Jews in Eretz Israel and shrink the number of non-Jews, i.e. the Arabs living there. The idea of expelling the Palestinians, called “transfer” in Israeli political language, is woven into Zionist discourse from its early beginnings. "
And as for this "transfer" of Arabs out of Israel:
"Questioned on his conception of the ‘voluntary transfer’ of the Palestinians, Minister of Tourism Rabbi Benny Eylon compared the ‘voluntary’ aspect of transfer with that of a Jewish husband who refuses to grant a divorce to his wife. Since the rabbinical court doesn’t have the authority to untie a marriage without the husband’s consent, the religious authority must use force: excommunicate the obstinate husband, beat him, and imprison him until he ‘voluntarily’ repudiates his wife. That’s the way to make the Palestinians leave ‘voluntarily’, he explained."
This is the brave little Israel that the propaganda would have us believe is representing western values in an otherwise value-less Middle East.

The rest of the article goes on to explain the current regime's plans for putting 'transfer' into operation. It is a must read for all who really want to understand what is going on.

In the meantime, and as part of that plan, the killings continue. Yesterday, a Palestinian man died after being wounded by IOF tank fire in Jenin 8 days ago. In Gaza City, the ruins of apartment blocks destroyed in the murderous attack two days ago have revealed two more bodies of Palestinian infants. Also yesterday, an Israeli military trainer was killed by Palestinian gunmen near the occupation settlement of Alei Zahav on the West Bank.

From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (5pm PDT July 25th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,611. In the same period, 558 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 700 Palestinians and 309 Israelis have been killed.

What Was That About The Culture?

Every time the race-war inciters over at little green footballs and similar nauseating sites get conned by the Israel Army into publishing obviously staged pictures of children dressed up to look like Hamas militants, they and their similarly-minded audience react with screams of fury. They claim that dressing up youngsters in this way is a sign of the degredation of the culture that did it.

What then shall we say about this ...

Nazi kids in York, Pa, 2001

or this...

Nazis in Idaho, 2002

These are young American kids dressed up happily as Adolf's little marching band and acting the role of Nazis. The first picture is from Pennsylvania last year, the second from Idaho this spring. There will be plenty of such kids dressed in their Nazi finery when the Aryan Nations World Congress gathers in Ulysses, Pa., this coming weekend.

I have to agree with those vicious warbloggers for once -- such behaviour certainly does illustrate the degeneracy of the society that produced them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Chinatown Night Market

Chinatown Night Market, Vancouver, July 2002

Palestine Daily Log

Imagine that a Hamas-inspired suicide bomber wants to target an IDF officer. He (or she) stands next to the soldier at a bus stop and detonates a bomb. The soldier and terrorist are killed, but so too are ten or a dozen Israeli civilians who also happen to be waiting at that bus stop. Can't you just picture the headlines, screaming about terror and horror and the inhumanity of it all? CNN and FoxNews would compete for the most compelling human interest pieces on the kids killed. Bush would speak on the White House lawn about the bravery of little Israel, and Condi Rice would be on all the talks shows arguing that this demonstrates that Palestinians have no idea about the value of human life.

Well, yesterday, Israeli killers did this exact same thing: targeting a single man in Gaza City, and killing more than a dozen innocents as collateral damage. But where are the headlines, where are the condemnations by U.S. politicians? Where are the TV profiles of any one of the eight little Palestinian children massacred? There will be none of these things because this was "self defence" by brave little Israel, and one of the "great successes" it was too.

According to Shifa Hospital reports, at least 14 Palestinians were killed in the strike, including Shehada's wife and three children, and his bodyguard Zaher Nasser. The hospital list of the dead included two babies, ages 18 and 2 months, five children aged 3-5, an 11-year-old, a child of unknown age and five adults.

"The IDF is sorry for any harm caused to innocent people, but regretfully, this is the result of terror, which uses civilians as human shields," the spokesman for the Israeli killers said. Apparently, spending the night in your own apartment surrounded by family and neighbours is now considered to be using "civilians as human shields!"

And the lies continue to pour out. The killers say "that there was no intention to hurt his family," and Ben-Elizier had the gall to say "according to the information we had, there were not supposed to be civilians in his vicinity." Well, you vicious bastard, there were more than 150 civilians close enough to be killed or injured by your missiles. Like there aren't going to be family and other innocents sleeping in their bed in apartment buildings just after twelve at night! Surely, even the Israel-at-any-cost lobby will have trouble swallowing these lies.

Unfortunately, the Gaza innocents were not the only deaths in the past twenty-four hours. Two Palestinian militants were killed in a gun battle with IOF troops at the ocupation settlement of Tel Katifa in the southern Gaza Strip. Three other Palestinian militants were killed by IOF troops in extra-judicial executions near Nablus. A total of 19 Palestinians, including 9 children, killed in a single day.

From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (5am PDT July 23rd, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,608. In the same period, 557 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 697 Palestinians and 308 Israelis have been killed. [Note: for those who have complained that my figures for deaths are too high, I want to note that today's Jerusalem Post puts the figures at 1,779 Palestinans and 778 Israelis. I have no idea where their additional 400 victims come from.]

Monday, July 22, 2002

The Horrors of Horowitzism

According to David Horowitz's latest screed, all Muslims and Blacks should be under heavy surveillance by the Ashcroft-Rumsfeld gulag gestapo because they are instrinsically anti-American. In fact, any "America-hating" radical is a terrorist according to Horowitz ("the ideological links .. are obvious" he says.)

But not only "American-hating radicals" (whoever they are): ANYBODY who dares to think that a group Mr Horowitz in his singular wisdom declares are terrorists might in actuality be victims (the Palestinians, for example, or the Nicaraguans facing military blitz by the US-armed Contras, or innocent Afghani villagers who just got in the way of an American bomb) is aiding and abetting terrorism. These terrible people (you and me, mostly) should also be subject to close surveillance by the thought police.

Of course, just like Bush and Ashcroft and Rumsfeld and Rice and the other rightwing ideologues seeking social control, Horowitz adamantly refuses to define "terrorist" in any way that is understandable to anyone not in line with him. Like the others of his ilk, he cannot do so because any reasonable definition will have to include many of the rightwingers' most cherished friends, like Ariel Sharon and Orlando Busch and Otto Reich - not to mention Oliver North and Ronald Reagan.

Therefore, the Ashcroft-Rumsfeld-Horowitz "terrorist" will remain anyone they choose to so label. This is the scenario for total social control. Joe Stalin would have been so proud!

Sunday, July 21, 2002

The Evolution of Vancouver  (c) JakKing 2002

The Evolution of Vancouver

Memoir: "1960: Mutual Deterence"

I was eight or nine when it dawned on me that my mother was having an affair with the trumpet player in the band at the Chiswick Empire music hall that we went to every Wednesday afternoon. I probably knew it for a while before it clicked in my head how best that information could be used in our ongoing and increasingly bitter civil war ...


Friday, July 19, 2002

Going For It!

Here in Vancouver, marijuana has been effectively decriminalized already, and has been for a few years. It now appears that Canada's Justice Minister Martin Cauchon is getting closer to rewriting Federal law to decriminalize dope right across the country. In this, he would be following the sensible example set by the British Government earlier this month.

Editorial reaction has been swift and positive. The Globe and Mail ("Mr. Cauchon's suggestion is welcome. Outdated and ineffectual, our cannabis laws gobble up absurd amounts of police and court resources and badly need an overhaul) and the Calgary Herald ("Cauchon's approach would more effectively address the criminal element associated with the drug trade, but would stop short of normalizing drug use") are typical.

Now, we just need the Police Association to keep their lying spokesmen off the public airways...
"The police claimed [in hearings before the Senate last year], for example, that 'violent crime in Holland is the highest in Europe and . . . the murder rate in Holland was three times that of the United States.' The Netherlands was singled out as a horrible example of what could happen in Canada because people can smoke pot in cafés there or take home as much as five grams without being molested.

But, in fact, statistics published by the United Nations for 1998 showed that the male murder rate per 100,000 was 15.20 in the United States, 2.30 in Canada and only 1.81 in the Netherlands. What had the police been smoking?
... and we might get some serious changes happening here.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Palestine Daily Log

Yesterday, in the continuing circle of wasteful violence, two Palestinian terrorists killed themselves and three Israeli civilians at the old Tel Aviv bus station.

From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (noon PDT July 18th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,589. In the same period, 557 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 678 Palestinians and 308 Israelis have been killed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The 22nd Tour de Gastown!

Tonight, for the first time since 1993, a professional bike race was raced around the cobbled streets of Gastown in downtown Vancouver. It used to be called the Gastown Grand Prix, but is now the Steamworks Tour de Gastown, sponsored by a local mini-brewery.

It was great to have it back, and the people of Vancouver turned out to cheer.

Tour de Gastown 2002, crowds

The course was tight, with sharp corners, leading to some exciting moments. The women's race was of 30 laps, while the men raced 50 times round. I was lucky enough to secure a spot on the hairpin bend where the flying cyclists make a sharp braking turn from Water Street to Cordova.

Tour de Gastown 2002, corner

The home stretch was along Gastown's historic and restored Water Street, the heart of tourist merchandising. I moved there for the big finish.

Tour de Gastown 2002, end gap

It was a wonderful evening. I have no idea who won, or whether it really means anything in their careers, but I saw a lot of people, locals mostly, having a really good time on a summer's evening. I was glad to have been there to enjoy it with them.

Palestine Daily Log

Palestinian gunmen killed 8 Israeli civilians in an attack on a bus near the occupation settlement of Emanuel. In a firefight later, one of the gunmen and an IOF soldier were killed. In a separate incident, IOF troops shot and killed a Palestinian militant near Nablus. There are reports just coming in of deaths via a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv. Details later.

The Israelis will, of course, blame the Palestinian Authority for failing to stop the bus attack. However, Israeli forces control the entire West Bank and have done for a while now. It is they who must take responsibility for security in those areas.

On CBC Radio News last night, the news reader said "This was the first fatal incident in the region since June." Later last night, on a local Seattle TV news boroadcast (ABC??), almost the same words were used. What was meant, presumably, was that these were the first Israeli civilian deaths since June. The use of this expression is a perfect example of how the Propaganda Model perpetuates myths. Since the previous Israeli civilian deaths on June 20th, the following Palestinian deaths have been recorded (see each days' Palestine Daily Log for details, does not include today's events):

  • 7 children aged 13 and under
  • 2 civilian women
  • 12 civilian men
  • 1 security guard
  • 1 reporter
  • 1 AP cameraman
  • 1 collaborator killed by Hamas
  • 12 militants/gunmen/terrorists

    That's a total of 37 Palestinians killed since June 20th, 24 of whom were not described, even by Israel, as "terrorists" or anything similar. So, when you hear on the news that today's killings are the first since June, you now know what that actually means.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (1:00pm PDT July 17th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,587. In the same period, 554 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 676 Palestinians and 305 Israelis have been killed.

  • Tuesday, July 16, 2002

    The Real Accounting Scandals

    While the press wallows in the hundreds of millions lost by WorldCom and Enron and the others, there is little or no coverage of the hundreds of billions lost and squandered by the U.S. government itself. The Associated Press calls the U.S. Government the "Top Book-Cooker."

    I'm not going to write too much about this now because Jim at Objectionable Content has covered it very well.

    Poetry: "For Better Or Worse"

    the collar, stiff still with factory starch, and tight, rasped against the rough edges of his indifferently shaved chin.

    he ran a relieving finger from Adam’s apple to neck’s nape, hoping the while that he left no mark on the clean white cotton.

    his large uncle’s charcoal grey pinstripe draped itself in folds down and across his Sinatra-esque frame, the material of his pants pooling at knee and ankle...


    TIPS From History

    As everyone must be aware by now, the U.S. Government has decided to hire a million or more domestic tittle-tattles to spy on the rest of the population. This is a standard totalitarian trick, used often throughout history, and ALWAYS condemned by rightwingers when totalitarian socialist governments use it.

    When you read this (from the TIPS office): "These workers will use their common sense and knowledge of their work environment to identify suspicious or unusual activity. This program offers a way for these workers to report what they see in public areas and along transportation routes." Remember this about Maoist China ...
    "The whole of China was like a prison. Every house, every street was watched by the people themselves. In this vast land, there was nowhere anyone could hide." (from Juan Chang's autobiography).

    "Every street still has its street committee, and nosy neighbors can ensure that the authorities hear about it if anybody starts holding any unexplained gatherings.” (from an article by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists)
    From Soviet Russia...
    "The terror spread outward to encompass the entire society: a deliberately induced mass frenzy of denunciation, involving millions of frightened people who had been encouraged to see in the reckless denunciation of others the only possible assurance of their own survival. The terror also supplied opportunities to settle scores with neighbors and colleagues, in order to get a larger apartment, perhaps, or a promotion.” (from a recent college-level history course)

    "80% of those who perished [in the Gulag] perished by denunciation, denounced by people, by their neighbors, friends, colleagues from work. There are such things, I have heard such things! I know a few cases. Take one -- just a page long. A short denunciation, a report of the arrest, the hearing of the Troika, the sentence, the investigator's testimony that the accused has admitted his guilt -- all in this thin file -- and then a note: the sentence has been carried out. Just one day, just one page, an anonymous denunciation. Dear comrades, we have grave yards, burial grounds, where we do not even know who lies there, we don't even have the lists [...] So I always ask: who are we? We are victims, we, those who have survived, are victims, too." (from the New Republic, 1990)"
    And even from the French Revolution...
    "The Terror's main purpose was to channel the people's rage; as Danton says, "Let us embody terror so as to prevent the people from doing so." Under the terror, words, as well as actions, can lead to denunciation. Neighbors denounce neighbors, friends inform on friends.”
    Time for us to remember this history and resist this incursion on our privacy with all our might!

    Monday, July 15, 2002

    Government Whores

    I do not support taxpayers' money going to sports. Not to amateur sports, not to support Olympic bids, not for professional sports teams looking for tax breaks and cheap arenas. If taxpayers want to support these events they have the ability to put their hands in their pockets -- voluntarily -- and come up with the cash.

    But what is even more offensive than wasting MY money on someone else's hobby, is when MY money is wasted on treating the political elites to outrageously expensive time off

    During the Salt Lake City Olympics, several Canadian officials were treated to hotel suites at more than $3,400 per night, some of which sat empty for several nights.
    "Much of the federal money was spent at the Hotel Monaco, a luxury boutique hotel in the centre of Salt Lake City. It features complimentary massages and wine each night in the Deco-styled lobby. Sport Canada, a department of Heritage, took six double rooms there at $690 (U.S.) a night, three junior suites at $930 (U.S.) a night and the posh Majestic Suite at $2,200 (U.S.) a night. The mahogany-furnished Majestic Suite features a Jacuzzi in the master bedroom, a dining table for eight, 25-inch remote-control colour TV, Nintendo 64 games, a CD player, Starbucks coffee -- and an ironing board."
    In all, $400,000 of MY money was spent on government accommodations plus scores of thousands more for receptions, tickets and free gifts. Makes me sick.

    An Open Letter on Palestine

    Open letters seem to be a fashion these days. To save time, I have liberally stolen from John Weidner's Letter to the Iranian People.


    We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom. What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Palestine on this day.

    Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:

    - That the people of Palestine are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties

    - That the current Israeli occupation regime and Arafat's Palestinian Authority have failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempt to mask their own failures by repression and tyranny

    We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Palestine; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the colonialist Israeli and irrelevant PA governments stand in the way of the Palestinians' ability to make those choices for themselves.

    And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Palestine. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Israeli and PA regimes, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

    And to the people of Palestine, we say: You are not alone. We see your daily deaths in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with horror and ever more of your civil rights are taken from you. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come.

    Please pass this on.

    Commisar Rumsfeld Wants The Freedom To Rule

    The Los Angeles Times this morning is running an extraordinary story about how Commisar for War Rumsfeld wants to free the Defence Department from the bother of reporting its actions to Congress. Reporting to Congress is, apparently, "burdensome and inefficient".

    Moreover, according to the report, "Pentagon officials also are drafting proposals to ban strikes by contract workers, eliminate federal personnel rules protecting civilian workers at the Pentagon and bypass environmentalists in Congress." For example:
    "The Pentagon is also battling to exempt the military from key provisions of environmental legislation. The Pentagon wants exemptions under the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and hazardous waste laws. The military has long argued that environmental regulation inhibits critical training at bases across the country and offshore."
    Screw the enviornment, let the training begin!

    The article notes that reduction in oversight has been a desire for many Defence Secretaries before Rumsfeld. However, as Cindy Williams, former director of national security studies for the Congressional Budget Office reminds us, "this is an administration that for a year and a half has been consistently secretive about everything, and has a record of trying to preserve their secrets even from people within the government who should know them, so this has to be seen within that context."

    Just as galling in this story is the attempt by department officials to bury the waste that taxpayers are burdened with. Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim admits that "just by paying its operating bills on time ... the Pentagon could save tens of millions of dollars in interest a year. 'It's not that we are mismanaging the money. After all is said and done, ask the Taliban if we're mismanaging our money,' Zakheim said. So, the taxpayer has to pay for the bombs AND the extra costs because Zakheim and his team are too inefficient to pay on time!

    The whole thing stinks and doesn't even have the patina of good politics. In a period where serious questions are growing each day about this Administration's ties to coporate interests, Rumsfeld is bizzarely calling for "for an end to the lengthy financial disclosure statements he is required to file." Couldn't be he and White and Wolfowitz and the others have things to hide, could it?

    Palestine Daily Log

    Avraham Burg, Speaker of the Knesset, is a man of blunt opinions. A recent interview with the Jerusalem Post included these gems:
    Sharon's administration is pursuing "crazy right-wing policies;" Bush's policy towards Arafat is "childishness" and "political infantility;" and Israel is "a society in which there is zero tolerance for others."
    For the latter reason, perhaps, there is a good chance that Avraham Burg will soon be out of a job.

    This interesting story from Ha'aretz illustrates the genuine military indefensibility of the illegal settlements in the colonialized territories. In many cases, it seems, there are more defenders tyhan settlers, and even those settlers who are there seem reluctant to assist in their own defence.
    "It is almost impossible to provide the remnants of a settlement of this kind with the essential elements of security. These settlements are badly neglected, with heaps of refuse in them without the necessary manpower to remove the garbage. Weeds grow wild between the dwellings. The few residents do not take part in guarding their homes - which does not stop them from lodging frequent complaints that the protection they receive from the army is insufficient. The soldiers who are sent to these places - including those who espouse right-wing views - cannot fathom the security grounds for their service there. The operational "holes" in the defense of such places are astonishing."
    And still the killing continues. On Sunday, in Balata refugee camp near Nablus, a Palestinian militant was killed after attacking an IOF vehicle. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, IOF forces invaded the village of Beit Lahiya, killing a 17-year old Palestinian farm worker in the process. In Khan Younis, IOF killers attempted to assassinate a Palestinian militant, but failed. Any one of the 10 civilians injured in the attack could have been killed. As it was, the confusion allowed Hamas gunmen to kill a suspected collaborator who was being tried in the building next to that attacked by the IOF.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (9:00am PDT July 15th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,585. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 674 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    Sunday, July 14, 2002

    Corporate Whores

    I have refrained until now from mentioning Dubya's corporate ethical woes. For an anti-capitalist anti-corporatist anti-statist anti-Administrationist like me, the news of George W. Bush's indiscretions during the time he was playing at being a business tycoon come not as a surprise, but rather as confirmation of things already known or reasonably suspected. The whole story was, frankly, too easy a target.

    However, guilt or innocence is not the issue I want to raise here. Rather, it is the deafening silence from the Republican ranks (McCain always excepted.) We find ourselves in a situation where in other -- Democratically presidential -- circumstances, the Republicans have hysterically called for the appointment of Special Prosecutors and the establishment of multiple and competing Congressional investigations. As Molly Ivins, discussing Enron, put it:
    "If you want to know what this story is about, pretend Bill Clinton is still president. President Clinton's long-time, all-time biggest campaign contributor, a guy whom Clinton has carried water for over the years, a guy with unparalleled 'access,' a shaper of policy, a man with a veto on regulatory appointments affecting his business, with connections at every level of the administration, a political fixer beyond the wildest dreams of James Riady - imagine that this guy's worldwide empire has tumbled into bankruptcy in just three months amid cascading reports of lies, monumental accounting errors, evasions, iffy financial statements, insider deals, a board of directors rife with conflicts of interest, top executives bailing out with millions while regular employees see their life savings shrink to nothing - imagine all this back in the day of Bill Clinton. Holy moley, we'd have four congressional investigations, three special prosecutors, two impeachment inquiries and a partridge in a pear tree by now."
    And what do we hear? Nothing at all, except that we should forget the past (in this case) and move on. As the Washington Post has it: "Congress's focus must now be on preventing more corporate dishonesty, not on Harken."

    The Republicans and the Post's defence of Bush begins and ends with the disclaimer that Bush's actions in taking consulting fees from managers he was supposed to be supervising, taking low interest loans from the company, failing to file timely SEC documents, and inflating the share price through accounting tricks were OK because everyone was doing it. The same bunch said that the last President (a Democrat) had to be held to a higher standard than the average joe. Not so Bush, it seems.

    The Post also says that "there is no suggestion that Mr. Bush ... sold the stock because he realized a restatement was coming." Wrong! As Newsday reported it Friday:
    "Harken Energy Corp. was in the midst of a serious financial crisis in the spring of 1990, and George W. Bush had been fully apprised of it when he sold most of his stock in the company in June of that year."
    Bush sold 212,140 shares of Harken stock on June 22, 1990, for $4 a share, grossing $848,560, according to SEC records. He did this just weeks after being advised in a confidential memo from the company president that events had conspired to "drastically affect Harken's current strategic plan .. to reduce our debt." In fact, one of the company's bankers required repayment because the company had defaulted (which "greatly intensifies our current liquidity crisis") and the company's advisors were saying that a public offering for cash was likely to fail.

    Moreover, as another letter reveals, during April and May of 1990, Bush was a member of a Special Committee struck specifically to deal with problems caused by Harken's failure to meet its loan obligations. In a review of that period, Bruce N. Huff, senior vice president of Harken Energy, stated that "by June, 1990, the company was constrained by its worsening cash and credit situation" (page 3.)

    It was in the middle of this situation that George Bush sold his shares. Less than two months later, Harken reported an unexpectedly large second-quarter loss of $23.2 million, triggering an immediate 20 percent decline in its share price. Bush has repeatedly claimed to have sold his shares into "good news." The facts clearly do not support him. If this doesn't count as trading on insider information what on earth ever could?

    But this isn't all. The share price that Bush sold at was overpriced not only because of the confidential liquidity crisis and the unexpected losses of 1990 Q2. They were massively overpriced due to the acounting irregularities involved in Harken's sale of Aloha Petroleum in 1989. The SEC obliged Harken to restate its financials for that period, with losses quadrupling in the process. It is highly unlikely that a strike price of $4 could have been had for Harken shares in June 1990 had the truth been known outside the company at that time. The Los Angeles Times has a good summary of what had happened.
    "In early 1989, George W. Bush and his fellow board members at Harken Energy Corp. were presiding over a company that was headed south in a hurry. The Dallas-based oil firm had lost millions of dollars placing bad bets on commodity futures. Debt was piling up; red ink was beginning to flow.

    Harken's executives came up with a novel plan to ease the pain. They would sell a small chain of Hawaiian gas stations called Aloha Petroleum to a group of investors that included Harken's chairman and one of its directors. The buyers would pay $1 million up front, but the accountants would record an immediate $7.9-million profit, enough to erase most of Harken's losses for the year.

    They made a point of seeking the approval of directors who were not participants in the investor group. Bush, a member of the board's audit committee, signed off on the deal, according to Harken documents. So did the company's outside auditor, Arthur Andersen & Co."
    The appearance of Andersen as auditors is not the only echo of a much more famous failure a decade later.
    "The Aloha sale was so similar to what Enron Corp. did to hide its losses that Harken could have served as a model for the now-disgraced company, one accounting expert said. 'The people at Enron could have gone to school on this thing,' said Alfred King, former managing director of the Institute of Management Accountants, vice chairman of Milwaukee-based Valuation Research Corp. and former advisor to the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

    'They sold to themselves and recorded a profit,' King said. 'That's exactly what Enron did on a number of those off-balance-sheet transactions. On this one transaction at least, it's almost identical' ...

    'Hiding losses in partnerships, playing games with accounting, not reporting forthrightly transactions as a potential inside trader—it's all eerily reminiscent of Enron,' said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington research group. 'This is not a corporate executive who laid awake at night worrying about complying with federal laws, from all appearances,' said Lewis"
    Bush and his people deny any similarities to Enron. Surprise, surprise.

    And the story keeps spawning questions. How well did the SEC investigate Bush and Harken? Why didn't they interview Bush? Why did Bush file his SEC documents so late? Why did Lee Bass bail out Bush?

    And none of this (except perhaps the last question) even touches the issue of possibly corrupt dealings between Harken and the U.S. goverment -- which I will attempt to deal with in a later piece.

    So, how does this compare with, say, Hilary Clinton's issue with a couple of White House employees, which led to Congressional hearings on Travelgate? How does this compare with, say, the $50,000 profit on a real estate transaction that caused the multi-million dollar cost of Whitewater? If they deserved Congressional hearings and Special Prosecutors, why not this?

    Saturday, July 13, 2002

    This is Earth to Major Tom, Can You Hear Me Major Tom?

    This is a true story. Just down the road from the dead people's house live the aliens. You can tell they are aliens because:

    (a) they cover their windows with aluminum foil to better trap the intergalactic messages sent to them;

    (b) they have a serious penchant for off-white stationwagons with brown faux panelling.

    aliens on victoria drive

    We believe that this house is a headquarters for the local aliens because they have covered ALL the windows in the building, AND they have THREE off-white stationwagons with brown faux panelling permanently standing guard.

    Sherry and I are open-minded. We positively enjoy the multicultural nature of the neighbourhood, and aliens are just one more multi to add to the culture. This house was little more than a curiosity on our regular walks. But things have now taken a decidedly dangerous turn.

    A few days ago I was looking at the apartment bulding across the street from us. I happened to notice that the windows of one of the apartments on the third floor had been covered with foil. Naturally I was shocked. But for a day or two I held to the hope that this was nothing more than that someone with bad taste had been reading hippy decorating tips for the middle 1960s. Unfortunately, my hopes have been dashed.

    aliens on adanac

    Yesterday, as I was climbing the weary hill after a hard day's work, I was brought to a halt when I saw, parked directly outside the suspect apartment, an off-white stationwagon with brown faux panelling. Coincidence? I don't think so. The aliens have spawned a new pod!

    Should I tell someone?

    I Wanna Be Debt Free, Too

    Begging is the most honest form of financial transaction. I ask you for money; you say "yes" or "no". No personality traits or bodily fluids are exchanged, and life moves on. Karyn has taken this to the logical level in this technological age.

    Karyn has more than $20,000 in credit card debt and she is begging for people to send her money to help pay it off. The strange thing is -- it's working with more than $125 sent in already!

    Just for the chutzpah, I'll send her five bucks.

    Friday, July 12, 2002

    Memoir: "Early 1950s, Tough Times"

    The first lesson every kid should learn is, that being a son or daughter does not guarantee love to or from the parent. Adolf Hitler loved the Jews better than my mother loved me. And from the age of two or so, the feelings were entirely mutual. I did not and do consider this abuse: it was more of a challenge...


    Why I Am Not A Liberal

    Amazon.com is coming to Canada. It has always been possible for us sorry Northerners to buy from Amazon, but we had to pay U.S. dollars (always losing on the conversion) and have the books shipped through Customs. It was inconvenient and expensive, quite frankly. But no more. The new Amazon.ca now services Canada in Canadian dollars and with in-country shipping. The service is quicker, cheaper and more convenient.

    Canadian independent booksellers hate it. I heard one of them on local radio this morning, explaining why this was the end of civilization as we know it and why they want the government to help them stop it.

    The local bookseller this morning explained that she could not compete with the lower prices and better service offered by Amazon. Therefore, she wants the government to effectively legislate higher prices and worse service for Canadian consumers. That's just crazy! If consumers don't want cheaper books and faster delivery, they will continue to shop the old fashioned way. However, if they DO want those things, then they should not be forced to do otherwise.

    Regular readers will know that I consider corporations to be the source of most of the evil in the world. However, what is even worse are government regulations designed to help one set of corporations defeat the people's business by screwing another set of corporations. So long as we live in a capitalist system, interfering with the free market can only make matters worse.

    Maybe They Couldn't Find A Pen (part 2)

    What do Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Congo, Iran and the United States have in common?

    They are the only countries in the world that retain the death penalty for juveniles.

    What do Israel, the Marshall Islands and the United States have in common?

    They were the only countries (of 170) to vote against the condemnation of the US's illegal trade boycott of Cuba at the last vote in October, 2001.

    [previously in this series]

    And if you think I pick on the Americans, you obviously haven't read John Pilger or Tariq Ali yet!

    Palestine Daily Log

    This morning a Palestinian security officer was killed in a shootout with invading IOF troops in Deir El Balah, Gaza Strip. As the IOF troops withdrew from the town, they shot and killed a 13-year old Palestinian boy. In Jenin this morning, a Palestinian reporter died from wounds received yesterday when an isolated IOF patrol began shooting randomly.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (6:00am PDT July 12th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,582. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 671 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    Thursday, July 11, 2002


    HAIKU #5

    Dark red stain across
    the landscape catches my eye;
    Coca-Cola signs.

    HAIKU #7

    Is a five syllable word;
    Form over substance.

    Wheels of Fortune

    A little while ago I admitted that I was a (TV-watching) jock, and that cycling was one of my favourite sports. Imagine my pleasure, therefore, to read leftbanker's very nice piece on the Tour de France. It is always good to read another enthusiast.

    The Tour is wending its way through France right now, with each day's stage finishing at about 8am Pacific daylight time. Perfect for an early riser like me. When I get up at 5, I have the fabulous coverage offered by Le Tour's own site. And at 6:30, the Outdoor Life Network starts broadcasting live TV until the conclusion of the stage. During the commercials, hardcore enthusiasts can catch up on all the velo information you could imagine with the online Cycling News.

    This year's Tour is shaping up nicely for Lance Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team. It would be a major surprise if Lance did not win his fourth consecutive Tour; and he deserves everything he gets. He is as far ahead of his peers in road racing as Tiger Woods is in golf, and I would have a hard time imagining that Merckx or Indurain (both of whom I was fortunate enough to see racing) or anyone else could seriously challenge Lance as the greatest road racer the sport has ever seen.

    So, who will be second? My personal favourite would be Laurent Jalabert of France, but ONCE's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano is looking strong right now. My other favourite, Erik Zabel, is hanging on to his leadership of the Sprinter's category.

    The Tour finishes just two days before we head off to the lake. Life could hardly be sweeter.


    Two days without internet connection at home and life begins to fall apart!

    I have whined about this before but, man oh man! You think you're playing it safe when you buy internet services from the big boys, the phone company, but oh no! They got you coming and going and no satisfaction anywhere in sight.

    Technical difficulties are understandable, but to be unable to get ANY decent information out of them about when and why and how much longer is frustrating to the point of screaming! Don't anyone ever try to sell you that bull that this is a buyer's market and consumers are better off these days.

    I am taking this brief timeout at work just to wish a breezy "hello" to any passing traffic. Normal service will be resumed around here as soon as possible.

    Tuesday, July 09, 2002

    Rumours of War

    This from The Corner at National Review Online:

    "SUMMONED: [Rod Dreher] A well-connected Eastern Orthodox source tells me that President Bush has asked to meet with top Orthodox church leaders at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. Word is none of the Orthodox know why they were invited. Yet this source recalls that the president's father invited Christian leaders, including heads of the Orthodox churches, to the White House in a similar fashion before Operation Desert Storm. He suspects this Wednesday invitation may be a signal that the invasion of Iraq is imminent."

    There was the report just the other day of forward troops already positioned in Jordan. And yesterday Dubya "vowed" once again to get Saddam. So who knows?

    What Bad Parents and Run-of-the-Mill Imperialists Share ...

    ...is a penchant for operating on the principle of "Don't do as I do, do as I say!" when dealing with subordinates. This is certainly the case today as the United States condemns Liberia for holding prisoners incommunicado.

    Perhaps State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has forgotten about that sun-kissed resort called Gitmo. Perhaps it slipped his mind that more than one thousand people have been detained in the United States since September and held with no access to lawyers and with little or no information being made available to their families. Perhaps Boucher forgets that due process in the U.S. is now what Ashcroft and Rumsfeld say it is on a day-to-day basis.

    I hold absolutely no brief for the vicious little regime that Charles Taylor operates in Liberia, and I certainly wouldn't want to swap places with any detainees that he may be holding, but blatant hypocrisy is blatant hypocrisy and needs to be noted.

    Palestine Daily Log

    It comes as no surprise to me that the appalling and squirming Tony Blair has agreed to continue arming Israeli exploitation and oppression in Palestine. Even less surprising is that Israel would sign an agreement with Britain and then brazenly break it:
    “In May, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw demanded an explanation from Sharon's government about the use of British military equipment in tanks and attack helicopters. Straw was furious that their use had come to light despite a written pledge from Israel in November 2000 that said 'no UK-originated equipment . . . is used as part of the defence force's activities in the territories'.”
    Israel is not known for going along with international agreements.

    It is good to see the outcry that has arisen over the Sharon regime’s support for racist and discriminatory land legislation that seeks to put Arab ownership of land in Israel forever out of reach. Among the condemnations:
    "If we are not already totally an apartheid state, we are getting much, much closer to it," said former cabinet minister and leftist Meretz party founder Shulamit Aloni. "We are also moving farther and farther away from the founding document of the state of Israel," she said, in a reference to the nation's 1948 Declaration of Independence, which pledged "development of the country for the benefit of all its residents" and "complete social and political equality to all its citizens, regardless of religion, race, or gender."

    "It is not permissible to allow an Israeli law to state that a non-Jew may be prevented from living in a particular place for security reasons," [dissenting Cabinet member Dan] Meridor said. "This is not a security matter at all. There is no need for flagrant discrimination."
    Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein was also opposed to the cabinet's decision, pleading with his colleagues not to approve it. "Those who want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state must work for equality for Arabs," he told the ministers.

    Meretz leader Aloni, an attorney, said Israel had already put segregation into effect in a number of ways, among them in appropriating Arab-owned land, designating it as "state land," and earmarking it for use by specifically Jewish towns and villages.
    "Perhaps we should turn every Israeli Arab village into a detention camp, like we do in the occupied territories, so that Druckman and the rest of the messianics could take away their land as well," Aloni said. "By the right of our might, we are acting as a racist nation.
    Less noticed than the racist land scandal is a move by the Sharon regime to disallow ANY compensation by ANY Palestinian for ANY action taken by the Israeli army in “a region of conflict.”[see last two paras of article] In other words, the IOF can willy-nilly destroy any Palestinian house or business or asset without reason and without fear of having to pay the damages caused. This is pure colonialist oppression of the highest order. Even the genocidal American settlers and their military forces were rarely granted such perfect immunity.

    Finally, the Knesset has voted to impose censorship on television broadcasts. As MK Avraham Poraz (Shinui) succintly put it, Israel can now "join the enlightened group of nations that includes Iran and Afghanistan, where the Ayatollahs decide what is broadcast on television and what is not."

    Meanwhile, the killing goes on. After previous denials, the IOF has admitted that it did fire shots in the area where a Palestinian woman and her 2-year old infant were killed on Saturday. No admission that they actually carried out the shooting – yet; and no apology. Also a 10-year old Palestinian boy died on Monday of injuries sustained from IOF fire 10 days before in Nablus. In Jerusalem this morning, during a gunfight with Israeli security forces, a Palestinian gunman killed a Palestinian civilian bystander. Also this morning, near Jenin, IOF killers assassinated a Palestinian militant.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (11:00am PDT July 9th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,580. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 669 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    Monday, July 08, 2002

    The Brothers Judd

    I am not much given to writing posts just to recommend another site (especially after a particularly busy day that left no time for other reading or blogging), but the quality of the writing at the Brothers Judd is just too good to avoid.

    Their politics are a problem (they are Whigs, as fluidly compromising as Liberals) but that hardly matters as one reads Orrin Judd's analysis of the reasons that prompted the resignation from Congress of J.C.Watts.
    "Mr. Watts wasn't exactly bucking for a Profile in Courage award by insisting that this boondoggle [the Challenger artillery program] be restored.
    The boys then move into "protect George" formation, rewinding the tape (in brilliant fashion) on Daschle's compromised past...
    "Mr. Daschle himself is implicated in a more recent scandal that's far sexier than Harken, though less sexy than Chappaquiddick, because he too appears to have been responsible for accidental death and to have tried covering it up
    ... as a defense against questions about Bush's insider trading in Harken a dozen years ago.

    Finally, Orrin writes a most pleasing memorial for their grandfather, Orrin Grimmell Judd, who died on July 7, 1976. Having clerked for Learned Hand, grandfather Judd served as Tom Dewey's Solicitor General, had a glittering private practice and became a Federal judge for the Eastern District of New York.
    "He was kind and generous, though distant in that WASPy way. He had a wit so dry that people often missed his comments."
    Hmmm, they don't make them like that any more.

    I wouldn't vote for their candidates, I'm sure, but I will continue reading the Brothers Judd blog.

    Sunday, July 07, 2002

    Memoir: "1967, A Day Trip To M'Hamid"

    Late May, 1967, and I had been living in Zagora, for a few weeks already. Zagora lies close to the indistinct border with Algeria. Further south, and the last habitable oasis before the Great Desert, lies the village of M'Hamid. During the months I had lived in Marrakech, I had heard tell that the camel trains to Timbuktou gathered at M'Hamid before heading south for Mali and the Upper Niger. I was determined to find out. In fact, I was determined to get to Timbuktou. To do that, I decided to hitch a ride to M'Hamid on one of the heavy trucks we had seen occasionally head south.


    Saturday, July 06, 2002

    Palestine Daily Log

    To all those armchair Israel-at-any-cost zealots, let's hear it from the front lines:
    Sharon "and his generals do not represent the basic values that Israelis, Jews and Arabs, stand for. So to criticise the current government of Israel is not to attack the people of Israel, and it is definitely not anti-semitic. It is not up to Sharon, the "hero" of such human catastrophes as Kibya (1953), Sabra and Chatila (1982), and Jenin (2002), to tell anyone what it is and is not to be Jewish.

    By branding any criticism of the suffering he inflicts on the Palestinians as anti-semitic, Sharon is enlisting something sacred for the vile colonial and expansionist ends he pursues."

    --- Staff Sergeant Shlomi Segall, veteran IDF Paratrooper, refusenik
    Unfortunately, not all all Israeli troops operate with the same morality. There are reports today that a Palestinian woman and her 2-year old baby have been machinegunned to death by an IOF tank near Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. At the moment the IOF is denying responsibility. They also say they didn't shoot and kill a Palestinian civilian walking to his home outside Khan Younis earlier today. No matter, really; the three Palestinians are dead anyway.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (11:00am PDT July 6th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,577. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 666 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    the fear of flying  (c) 2002 Jak King

    the fear of flying

    Friday, July 05, 2002

    Poetry: "Triage"

    Losing a lover is like
    losing a limb
    or a necessary organ:
    take whatever drugs you want
    to ease the pain,
    it still hurts like hell
    in the morning


    Hijacking Chinese TV

    I haven't seen this reported anywhere in the mainstream press -- the Falun Gong movement has apparently become sophisticated enough to hijack television satelites beaming to the People's Republic of China.
    "The satellite broadcast, in which a banner reading "Falun Gong is good" replaced normal TV viewing in Shandong province on Sunday night and again in prime time on Tuesday, is among the group's most daring moves since it was banned in 1999. Chinese security sources told The South China Morning Post that most of China Central Television's 10 channels, and another 10 provincial channels sharing the Sinosat-1 satellite, were interrupted on Sunday night.

    The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Hong Kong, said the Falun Gong banner appeared on TV screens in Yantai city, Shandong and Laiyang county twice last week, in some cases for up to 15 minutes. The centre said it had confirmed the incidents with local security authorities and television stations ...

    Similar incidents occurred in January in Chonqing, Sichuan province, in March in Jilin province where Falun Gong leader Li Hongzhi was born and in Harbin in April. In these cases the targets were cable TV stations.
    The movement has also been using the telephone system to broadcast recorded messages in Beijing.

    Technology can be resistance!

    [I am indebted to Neale Talbot for the lead]

    Truth or Consequences

    One of the problems with "information" on the Internet is that people have come to doubt its veracity because there is so much junk out there. This perception is not helped when bloggers believe they can get away with outrageously libelous statements.

    Vincent Ferrari and I do not agree on a whole range of issues. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed the cut and thrust with him here and on his own generally well-written site at Insignificant Thoughts. Yesterday, however, he stepped way over the line. In a posting about the July 4th holiday, Vinny wrote:
    "We live in a country where Presidents sleep with interns, and Congressmen murder them."
    I wrote a comment to Vinny asking him to remind me which "Congressmen" had murdered "interns" (note that this is all plural in Vinny's words, but I would have settled for a single name really.) Vinny responded with: "Stick to blogging about Canada or 'Palestine.' I'm not about to debate you or even acknowledge that last comment."

    Wow, in Vinny's world you can publicly accuse any number of people of murder, and you don't have to have any accountability for your actions. That puts Insignificant Thoughts on about the same level of reliability as Weekly World News or Star Weekly.

    I urge all of my readers to visit Vinny's site and leave a comment on his story asking for names and details.

    Update: After my prodding, Vinny has updated his site with a specific accusation of murder against former Congressman Gary Condit. He claims he is doing no more than CNN, Fox News and some others. However, those folks have real lawyers who tell them NOT to publicly make the accusations that Vinny has been so bold as to shout.

    So, no need to visit Vinny's site anymore, folks! (just kidding!) and I specifically withdraw my comparison between Insignificant Thoughts and the Weekly World News.

    Palestine Daily Log

    In a move deliberately designed to further weaken the PA’s ability to meet Israeli demands for security (and thus to create self-fulfilling prophecies), Israeli forces yesterday destroyed two Palestinian police stations in Khan Younis.

    Also yesterday, Israeli killers murdered two Palestinian militants in Gaza City, blowing up their car in the middle of an intersection filled with civilians – collateral damage not being an issue for these killers or their bosses.

    From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (5:30am PDT July 5th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,574. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 663 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    Thursday, July 04, 2002

    Palestine Daily Log

    I try to avoid the true bigots, but sometimes it is unavoidable. One of the worst is a proselytizing religious zealot by name of Joel Golden. He is a vicious anti-Muslim and if you doubt me, try this sermon of hateful lies.

    As I say, I try to avoid this type these days. But some lies are so big and so stupid that they are worth bringing to the light. This is what Mr. Golden has to say about news coverage in the mainstream press of civilian casualties.
    ”With 50 Israelis killed by suicide bombers in the past three weeks, most of them youth, some babies, the main News Media will still finds one or two Palestinian civilians that were killed in the line of fire while the IDF was going after murders. The 50 Jewish civilians killed while riding their buses, eating in a cafe or just setting in their homes didn't get a lot of news coverage. But that one or two Palestinians will get full coverage, in fact, that is all you will hear about for weeks to come, but the 50 don't seem worthy of mention.”
    I thought I would pass this on in the interests of balance. Golden clearly states an exactly opposite view of the media than is generally portrayed here. Now, think back a couple of weeks. Did the Israeli victims of suicide bombings get a lot less coverage than the Palestinian civilians killed in the same weekend? I leave it up to you to decide which view is more accurate.

    And while we are on the subject of media coverage, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has a fascinating article on the nitty-gritty mechanics of the Propaganda Model. Under pressure from the interests, mainstream media is moving away from use of the honest "settlement" to describe Israeli illegal occupations in favour of the much friendlier and more seemingly legitimate "neighbourhood."
    "Take the case of Gilo, an Israeli settlement that some pro-settler groups have used as a focal point for their campaigns to eliminate the term "settlements" in favor of "neighborhoods." In September 2001, CNN changed its policy on how to characterize Gilo: "We refer to Gilo as 'a Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem, built on land occupied by Israel in 1967.' We don't refer to it as a settlement," said the order from CNN headquarters."
    The FAIR article has numerous other examples to buttress its case. [thanks to Norm Jensen for this reference]

    In looking at events within Israel/Palestine these days we always have to remember that Israel is in total effective control of the entire area. Whatever happens happens under their watch, not that of the Palestinian Authority. And what is happening is, of course, continued oppression. The deliberate inconveniences organized by the Israelis are having a negative affect on the delivery of humanitarian aid. Respected agencies such as Medicins Sans Frontiers have officially complained that "they are often unable to reach people who need basic assistance, as curfews and checkpoints push Palestinians into deepening poverty."

    Finally, there have been no intifada-related deaths for a few days. However, this is isn't for want of trying ("3 armed Palestinians attempt to enter W. Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan; flee after being spotted", "Seven hurt by IDF tank fire at vehicle traveling next to Tubas village near Nablus" -- both from Ha'aretz Flash News today.) From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (6:00am PDT July 4th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,572. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 661 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed.

    Wednesday, July 03, 2002

    Thatcher Beheaded

    The London Evening Standard reports that "A statue of former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher has been vandalised in London. The statue's head was knocked off by a man using a metal rope support stanchion."

    Of course I deplore any acts of vandalism against any work of art. But still.....

    Memoir: "1967, Marrakech Express"

    Not long after the mind-opening New Year party on the beach at Malaga, Ken and I took the ferry from Algeciras to Tangiers. We looked as if we had been on the road for months but, in truth, it had been only a couple of weeks -- we had just let ourselves go on the easy road down through France and Spain. A man in his late twenties -- which we considered to be very close to middle age and possibly wisdom -- whom we had met near Barcelona, told us that the Moroccan authorities were targeting long-haired Europeans. This didn't bother Ken who always kept his hair short. But here I was on the windy deck of a Mediterranean ferry with half-way-down-my-back-length hair tied up in string and stuffed uncomfortably inside an oversized cowboy hat I had found near Valencia.


    Tuesday, July 02, 2002

    While Our Minds Are Elsewhere ...

    ... the Bush Administation is quietly dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund, leaving the nation's worst toxic sites -- and their neighbours -- to rot.

    The point of the Superfund was to oblige the polluter to pay. This idea was abandoned by Congress several years ago when they refused to re-legislate taxes on industry. That left a choice -- get the taxpayer to pay, or let the sites stay the way they are, leaking, leeching and dangerous.
    "Like all sites covered by the Superfund program, the 33 that are targeted for reductions are among the most contaminated grounds in the country and pose some level of health and environmental hazards to their communities. The documents provided by the inspector general did not indicate how these sites were chosen for cuts.

    The report makes clear that under the administration's approach the costs of cleaning up these sites would eventually shift to all taxpayers, and that in the meantime the whole program would be slowed down ... the fund has dwindled from a high of $3.8 billion in 1996 to a projected $28 million next year. President Bush's budget made clear that he did not intend to reauthorize the tax." [emphasis added]
    Ideologically, this Administration is not about to raise taxes -- not even poor peoples' taxes -- to clean up a bunch of fields and streams. So these terrible environmental blights will continue to mark the land and injure American citizens. And all to save industry paying its full weight. This is capitalism at work.

    Palestine Daily Log

    Each day, when there are deaths on either side, I publish the Palestine Daily Log, which includes an aggregate total of deaths. The latest goes like this:

    "From the beginning of the renewed Intifada on 29th September, 2000, until now (5:00pm PDT June 30th, 2002), the total number of Palestinians killed is 1,572. In the same period, 545 Israelis were killed. This year so far, 661 Palestinians and 296 Israelis have been killed."

    The two questions most often asked of me about the Log are: where do you get your figures? and don't your figures for the Palestinians include bombers and terrorists?

    As for sources, I use Israeli sources exclusively in order to avoid certain obvious criticisms. Ha'aretz is my most usual source, backed up by the Jerusalem Post and, occasionally, the official IDF site. From these sources I get all my numbers.

    Do the Palestinian figures include terrorists and bombers? Yes, in the same way that the Israeli figures include IDF soldiers and spies. In an article that is of importance in this particular debate, Ha'aretz today breaks down the civilian deaths on the Palestinian side.
    "Abd a-Samed Shamalekh, who was supposed to start Grade 4 after the summer vacation, was the 116th Palestinian child the IDF has killed in the Gaza Strip since September 28, 2000. According to figures compiled by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 450 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF during the intifada as of yesterday [in the Gaza Strip alone]. These figures do not include those who mounted offensives against IDF positions or settlements and were killed during these attacks. The numbers do include armed Palestinian civilians or security personnel who responded to IDF attacks against residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

    According to these strict criteria, 1,398 people were killed by IDF fire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the intifada as of June 18. (Since then, 8 more were killed in Gaza and at least 15 in the West Bank.)

    Of these 1,398 fatalities, 253 were children. This does not include Shamalekh, a 17-year old from Rafah, seven children killed by IDF fire during the past 10 days in the West Bank, and another child who died when his house collapsed after the IDF destroyed an adjacent home.

    Among the Palestinian dead are 77 women, including 18 in the Gaza Strip. Since this data was compiled on June 18, another woman was also killed by the IDF in Dir al-Balah.
    Next time we see banner headlines about the deaths of Israel civilians, let us remember for just a moment, the 253 innocent Palestinian children murdered by the IOF, the scores of innocent Palestinian women killed mercilessly by Israeli bullets, and the other 1,000 Palestinian innocents who die in ignominious silence at the hands of Israeli oppressors.

    Monday, July 01, 2002

    The Dead People's Sale

    I am sure that Sherry and I are not the only ones who make up stories for people and places seen on a regular basis. Somehow the mind -- or at least what passes for my mind -- seems to need to connect the dots, to form a back story, to explain, even when there are no dots to join.

    On one block we walk regularly there is a dowdy and unkempt two storey house we have dubbed "the dead people's house". The house has two side by side doors. One leads to the upstairs apartment of a lady of very advanced age. I never met her, but Sherry says she is in her 80s, always dressed appropriately for the season, but needed help getting around sometimes.

    Downstairs is an apartment with a large front window that is never covered with drapes or blinds. It is always too dark to see inside the apartment, but on the windowsill sits a coffee mug and a vase of plastic flowers. The same coffee mug and plastic flowers have been in their same positions for more than a year. It was this fact -- the unmoving tableau -- that led us to conjecture that some presumably friendless person had died in the apartment and was probably still lying in the back bedroom. That, the absolute lack of building upkeep, and the piles of bagged garbage that collected in unmanagable proportions on and under the stairs leading up to the front doors.

    It has been "the dead people's house" for a long time with us. But no more.

    Today there was a large industrial skip sitting outside the house, half filled with the detritus of life. On the sidewalk and all across the front yard, in boxes and loose, were a whole life's possessions -- books and clothing and kitchen goods and always more clothes -- offered for sale for pennies.

    estate sale, July 1, 2002

    A professional estate salesman was handling the affair with no personal attachment. I guess you have to be that way. He told us that the old lady upstairs had gone into a rest home and they were clearing out the house and all its contents. To pay towards the rest home I suppose. The old lady had been a pack rat, it seems. He told us that what was out in the street was the contents of just two rooms; they had seven more rooms and the basement to go.

    He also cleared up the dead person mystery. The old lady had apparently used the downstairs just for storage. There never had been a tenant to die lonely in his bed.

    I cannot imagine that an 80-year old lady would be happy to have all her possessions laid out for the world to see and paw over. I just cannot see her being happy about that. But even more it really says a lot about the ultimate value of things, possessions, worldy goods. What are they in the end, but yard sale fodder?

    Canada Day

    For Canada Day, we went down to Garry Point in Steveston. It is one of the finest places in the world to fly kites, and we went there for that very reason. We weren't the only ones! The B.C. Kiteflyers Association had a meeting at Garry Point today and there were kites of all types scattered across the white-clouded sky.

    I was fascinated by four flyers who flew their stunt kites in formation, looping round, swooping, rising, following each other in serpentine pathways across the sky. I'd never seen that before.

    Canada Day kites, Garry Point, 2002
    For Canada's 135th birthday, this line had 135 Canadian flag kites attached!

    There was a fabulous steady breeze and the flying was easy -- even for us beginners. Sherry's kite went straight up and stayed aloft for as long as we wanted, its happy face smiling down at us, tugging hard against the line, its dragon tails streaming behind. A good time, followed by wonderful halibut and chips and mushy peas eaten with the breeze at our backs.

    Happy Birthday, Canada!