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Jaks View from Vancouver

Monday, March 31, 2003

Why Are We Here?

President Hosni Mubarak, ruthless and efficient dictator of Egypt, gave a speech to his soldiers in Suez today. He strongly criticized the imperialistic American aggression in Iraq (my words, not his), reminding his audience that
""Egypt's position has been and still is clear in rejecting .. .the military option and rejecting participation in military action of the coalition forces against brotherly Iraq,"
He continued, stating a truth that is plainly obvious to everyone in the world outside Middle America and Tony Blair's New Labour,
"When it is over, if it is over, this war will have horrible consequences. Instead of having one (Osama) bin Laden, we will have 100 bin Ladens."
But that, of course, is entirely the point for Washington's war planners. There are no longer any nation states that can threaten the American Empire's military power, and so the military-economic complex -- without which the western capitalistic system cannot survive -- needs new adversaries to justify its continually increasing grip on trillions of the public's (debt-based and not really existing) money. The drug barons of South America (and, soon, Russia) are a useful but limited source of conflict. But international terrorism and international terrorist gangs -- that's the motherlode, the new vein of ore to replace the late lamented Cold War.

This war is being fought for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to save the American economy going forward. It is being fought to justify the trillions of dollars spent in the last decade on an otherwise unproductive military. It is being fought to use up material so that more material needs to be manufactured and purchased all over again. It is being fought to justify the trillions they want to spend in the next decade on an otherwise unproductive military. (No one even blinks when military expenditures top out above a big-T Trillion dollars -- can you even imagine spending a trillion dollars to fix urban blight or poverty or education or health care in the States?) It is being fought to show the world that America can do whatever it wants to do regardless of international government or public opinion. It is being fought to show the world that this is how it is going to be from now on.

But most of all it is being fought for the sake of US industry. The war in Iraq is not going to last forever, no matter how brave and resourceful the individual Iraqi soldier, and so the planners must look ahead. The more terrorist organizations that rear up in the wake of a burning Baghdad and a slaughtered Saddam, the better for the Pentagon. Each group will need a new bolt-hole -- Somalia, Syria, Chechnya, Laos, whatever -- and each bolt-hole becomes another target for the killing machines. And each target becomes a justification for buying more arms, then using those arms, and then replacing those arms once again: Terrorism as a cash cow for the Pentagon and the corporations.

It's for this that we are where we are.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Memories Are Made Of This...

As GIs approach a battle-scarred Baghdad in the name of a renewed Imperial America, it is good to remember that exactly thirty years ago today, the last U.S. fighting forces retreated from their disastrous involvement in South Vietnam.

And where are we now, thirty years later?

We have a hundred thousand and more U.S. troops fighting a hot war in Iraq, with thousands more in shooting wars in Afghanistan, Colombia, and the Phillipines. There are tens of thousands more American military propping up dictators all across Central Asia and the Caucusus, from Shevernazde's gangster-ridden Georgia right through to the fantasy land of the God King Turkmenbashi. There are huge American garrisons in Korea and Europe, and smaller military outposts in scores of other supposedly-independent nations.

Never more than today, the world lives in America's military grip. Resistance is a requirement.

Friday, March 28, 2003

A Cool Drink

A Cool Drink  c.2003 Jak King

A Cool Drink

One day this week, the sun was quite warm and I found this young duck scooping a cool drink from a tidepool stream at noontime.

Outnumbering The Bad Guys

I read here that the pro-war folks are to have a rah-rah-America rally outside the Consulate in Vancouver this Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm.

For all those who can't make the peace rally on Saturday, it would be good if you could come to the Consulate on Sunday to help outnumber these freaks.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Those of us wizzened enough to remember when General Westmoreland would call LBJ month after month and say "Boss, if you give me another 50,000 troops, I'll take Hanoi and beat the crap outta those gooks" and month after month Johnson would agree and send the boys, those of us old enough to remember that, and those of us with draft-age kids especially, get the shivers when we read that
"The United States is preparing to deploy up to 120,000 more troops to Iraq amid growing concerns about the progress of the war."

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Still Death

Still Death   c.2003 Jak King

Still Death

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

In The Land of the Free....

I wonder how many of my American readers were aware that an FBI offfice -- without any need for a judicial review -- can issue its own warrants called "national security letters" that require businesses to turn over electronic records about bank accounts, credit records, telephone calls, e-mail and other personal information.

Beryl A. Howell, former general counsel to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and a specialist in surveillance law, described national security letters as "an unchecked, secret power that makes it invisible to public scrutiny and difficult even for congressional oversight."

In addition, the boss himself, Ashcroft the Merciless, can sign what are called "emergency foreign intelligence warrants" for wiretaps and physical searches of suspected terrorists and other national security threats. These are personally issued by the AG and are subject to review only by the government's own super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The FISA proceedings and findings are closed to the public.

Recent reports suggest that Ashcroft has signed three times more of these warrants in two years than were issued altogether in the previous twenty-three years.

Do you feel safer now you know that Torquemada is breathing down your neck?

[Thanks to the Washington Post]

Ike For President

One fine example of the good sense of a previous President of the United States, one who understood war and peace, and from whom the current Emperor might draw some wisdom (if he had any sense at all.)

[thanks to wood s lot for the pointer.]

Stairs III

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Lessons From Capitalism #1074

In another fine example of a capitalist lesson, Delta Airlines -- which lost a massive $1.7 billion in 2002 -- decided that CEO Leo Mullins deserved to receive a raise of more than 100%, from a piddling $6.1 million to a more healthy $13 million for that same loss-ridden year.

Imagine what he would have received if he had actually run the airline into bancruptcy!

The Invisible Man

While U.S. Special Forces are trying to track down the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, I spend my nights worrying about Vice-President Dick Cheney who is in hiding apparently as deeply as the Iraqi leader.

Cheney is a dangerous enough guy even when he's openly available; hiding as he is in the bunker someplace makes me even more nervous. Dick Cheney is, after all, the main reason to keep those pretzels away from baby Bush.

Did anyone check Haliburton's Board Room?

Two hours later: Why, here he is!

Monday, March 24, 2003

Best Speech at the Hollywood Love-In

"We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man who's sending us to war for fictitious reasons, whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you!"

-- Micheal Moore, Academy Award winner for "Bowling For Columbine"

Wake Up, It's Spring!

Urban Daffodils c.2003 Jak King
Urban Daffodils

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Peaceful Sunday Morning

Saturday, March 22, 2003

The Protests Continue

In Vancouver today, several thousand people gathered again to protest the War.

Some activists have set up a well-entrenched peace camp opposite the US consulate. This is their main banner.

And of course, we were far from alone.

Berne and Bilbao [pictures c. New York Times]

New York and Amsterdam [c/o. New York Times]

Friday, March 21, 2003

The Old Coaster at Playland, Winter 2003

Coaster V  copyright Jak King 2003

Is This War?

As we stood and watched an undefended city and its people be battered into rubble by a multi-billion dollar military machine, my generally pro-American colleague spoke words of clear truth.
"This isn't war," he said. "This is bullying and murder. It is like Bush just wants to wave his penis in the other guy's face and shout "Mine's bigger than yours!'"
Out of the mouth of a pro-American ....

Voices Around the World

"This is no ordinary day," said Jason Mark, one of thousands of protesters in San Francisco. "America is different today. We've just launched an unprovoked, unjust war."

Chicago and Greece [pictures c. New York Times]

In Cairo, Egyptian riot police used water canon and batons to beat back crowds throwing rocks and trying to advance on the US embassy. "We just wanted to tell the Americans they are no longer welcome here," said student leader Fadlallah Abu Wafia.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said on Friday that the attack on Iraq was an "immoral" war in which America was abusing its power.

Rome and Curitiba, Brazil [pictures c. Sydney Morning Herald]

"When I thought of the children in Iraq, I felt like I had to come,'' said housewife Fumiko Nakajima, 38, who was marching with her husband, their two children, and thousands of others in Tokyo. ``If our government can't stand up to the United States, then we citizens have to.''

New York and San Francisco [pictures c. New York Times]

In South America, hundreds of Ecuadorans marched on the US embassy in the capital, Quito, burning US flags and chanting "Bush is an assassin". And in Buenos Aires, Argentina, demonstrators chanted slogans describing the US president, George Bush, as "a fascist terrorist".

In Berlin, schoolchildren placed candles on a street leading to the US embassy, which was sealed off by police, heavy concrete barriers and fences. Banners hung on police barriers carried slogans such as "common sense ends when violence begins" and "boycott US products".

Tokyo and Washington, DC [pictures c. Sydney Morning Herald]


In the heart of Imperial Amerika, where the rich-folks'-Constitution claims that freedom of speech is an inherent right, there are pro-war signs in Mississippi stating: "Support the US or keep your mouth shut."

Thursday, March 20, 2003

What the US Really Wants the UN To Be....

Steve Bell: "The Guardian"

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Robin Cook's Speech

Yesterday, Robin Cook, the British Leader of the House of Commons -- the effective equivalent of Senate Majority leader -- and a former Foreign Minister resigned from the British Government in protest at the UK's alliance with an imperialistic and domineering United States in an unholy war. His speech of resignation was received with a standing ovation. Part of what he said:
"Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of that term - namely, a credible device capable of being delivered against strategic city targets. It probably does still have biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions. But it has had them since the 1980s when the US sold Saddam the anthrax agents and the then British government built his chemical and munitions factories. Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years and which we helped to create?"
The balance of his speech can be found here.

Monday, March 17, 2003

As Bush Declares War, Support Your Troops ...

... demand that they be brought home immediately!

And always remember, as the mid-19th century clergyman and lecturer William Channing remarked:
"The cry has been that when war is declared, all opposition should therefore be hushed. A sentiment more unworthy of a free country could hardly be propagated. If the doctrine be admitted, rulers have only to declare war and they are screened at once from scrutiny ... In war, then, as in peace, assert the freedom of speech and of the press. Cling to this as the bulwark of all our rights and privileges."

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Memories are Made of This

As the United States -- with its toy poodles, Great Britain and Australia, trailing along behind -- prepares to commit the latest in a long line of war crimes, it is perhaps an appropriate time to remember that today is the 35th anniversary of the day on which Lt Calley and his happy band of US Army barbarians murdered hundreds of innocent Vietnamese civilians in a previously-unremarkable rural hamlet called My Lai.

Vancouver Against the War

The media are reporting that 30,000 turned out for the anti-war march and rally in Vancouver yesterday. It seemed a little less than that to me, but still ...

And the messages were clear ...

Saturday, March 08, 2003

To The Progress of Women Everywhere!

On My Way To Work on International Women's Day, 2001

my true love,
my fino naked amontillado woman
waving goodbye with a promise on her face

At the bus stop seven women
three young
one old
four Oriental
wearing early morning faces

On the bus, a score or more
all different
pale blue anorak, red button earrings
long flowing flowering skirt
green duffel coat with a brown and cream scarf
grey baggy jeans

a Japanese girl,
matte black hair, matte black jacket, matte black jeans and shoes,
china white face

no hats

In rainsplashed grey, the homeless beggar girl
curled coldly in the bank entrance mouths
her need
her face pierced and tattooed
she’ll be easy to spot when the vigilantes ride

On the train it is too early
in the day to see the women
bowed down
dragged down
by bunches of plastic-bagged groceries
but there are plenty of
the occasional briefcase

One woman works through the newspaper crossword
One woman reads a soft cover novel with a lurid colour scheme
One woman intently studies a thick textbook in an unknown subject

Black stockings
grey stockings
flesh-coloured stockings
black shoes (mainly) but also
a white-rimmed runner
a blue suede shoe
and a dark brown number with tall wooden heels

no hats

and at the next bus stop there is Karen,
my special friend
calls me “sweet man”
the special needs transit pass her necklace which she wears as proudly as a duchess wears a diamond
we share my umbrella, discuss her work

I sleep on the bus
surrounded by women I wouldn’t get to sleep with in any other circumstances

Thursday, March 06, 2003

The Only Allies America Can Find...

"Homeland Security"

As happens in most military-dominant governments, the United States Administration and its mindless minions throughout the system have decided that dissent is equivalent to lack of security and must therefore be extinguished. We have only the smallest signs yet -- scattered shots across the bow, perhaps -- but each needs to be recorded and fought against.

We have the story of the pressure applied to teachers to support the war. In Maine, the State's "top education official warned teachers to be careful of what they say in class" so as, apparently, to not upset the children of military families. We also have the case of the man in a "Peace" t-shirt being arrested and handcuffed while eating lunch with his kids.

[image courtesy of Propaganda ReMix]

There have no doubt been other examples, and there will be others -- with empire-builders like Cheney and religious ayatollahs such as Ashcroft running the game, how can there not be? -- and I will record each one I come across.