Blog of Mass Distraction

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Assassinate, Annex, iPod

Pat Robertson, the super-right wing evangelical leader known for the 700 Club, made comments on a talk show saying that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated.1 Apart from the sheer audacity and inappropriateness of the comments, they're actually not that suprising compared with other things this guy has said.2 Looking at his claims and statements, there's really no option but to consider this man a stark raving lunatic. One of my friends commented on how it's always the ones who claim to be following God that are calling for blood and murder. Some Christian Pat Roberston is. How on Earth he built a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars from his 'charitable' organization is beyond me. This same guy, who apparently bragged about running around with hookers in his younger days, says that feminism makes women kill their babies, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians...

In Israel, as they finish up the Gaza withdrawal, Israel has annexed a large portion of the West Bank so that it can continue building the illegal wall. It's seizing the land as part of the largest West Bank settlement and plans to make it part of Israeli controlled Jerusalem. This is another demonstration that they have no real intent for peace, because this is an utterly unacceptable, and completely illegal, move on the part of Israel.

On a completely different topic, I bought an iPod. An iPod photo actually... I was initially very hesitant about iPods since they kind of lack some features that comparable players (like the iRiver or Creative ones) have. The things I thought about specifically were an FM tuner and audio/voice recorder. But the comparable players are also at comparable prices. And seeing as how my main mobile machine is a Mac, having the Win PC limitation is not great for me. I haven't really given it a whirl yet, so I'll do that and see how it is. Just a tip, you can get them cheaper than the regular price if you look (no not illegal, just look to buy in the right places).

1. Roberston apologized" for calling for Chavez's assassination.

Monday, August 15, 2005

NAFTA me up

Following in their tradition of ignoring international laws and agreements the US administration has rejected the ruling of a trade court on the softwood lumber issue. The Canada-US dispute has been going on for ages and in a final decision the court ruled that tarrifs placed on Canadian lumber imports were illegal and against the NAFTA treaty. The US promptly replied that it didn't care and it would maintain the tarrifs and not pay back the billions in lost income. The US did say they would consider further talks to resolve the issue, but the blatant disregard for the NAFTA agreement which they helped pen is yet one more blemish on their already filthy and tattered record of respecting treaties and international law.

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia also died recently. The long time Crown Prince Abdullah has been crowned his replacement. Abdullah has long been taking care of the kingdom due to Fahd's ill health.

Israel has finally begun the withdrawal process from the Gaza Strip. Binyamin Netanyahu has resigned his cabinet position in the Knesset in protest to the withdrawal. In spite of the finality of the decision many pro-settler Israelis have been mounting major protests against the pullout. The plan is to withdraw from Gaza so that several major settlements in the West Bank can be maintained. This is of course unacceptable to Palestinians, but Sharon isn't worried about that right now.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

New Governor General

Paul Martin has announced that prominent French Journalist and documentary film maker Michaƫlle Jean will be the next Governor General of Canada. The Haitian born Francophone is well known in Quebec for her role in CBC, but lesser so in English speaking Canada. Her family fled the Papa Doc Duvalier regime to come to Montreal where Michaƫlle grew into an outstanding intellectual and journalist. She knows several languages and has won many awards for her documentaries and journalism work. The choice was praised by many including opposition members in Parliament, except Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe who said he was disappointed such a prominent Quebecer would take a role in a non-democratic institution.
Personally I think Jean is a great choice for Governor General and the Queen's representative in Canada. However, I'm very much a republican and against monarchy all together. The idea that people are deserving of leadership because of the family they are a part of goes against all fairness, democracy and equality. Still I think Jean will represent us well as a country.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Planes, trains and councils

Lots of news, lots of news... An Air France plane crash landed at Pearson International Airport in the Greater Toronto Area. Miraculously all 300 or so passengers and crew on board were all able to escape the plane after it skidded past the end of the runway into a ravine near the 401 (the busiest highway in the country), the tail and wings fell apart, and it burst into flames. Some passengers were injured but everyone survived. The black box has since been recovered and sent to France for analysis. The mangled remains of the hull can still be seen from the highway. And when the plane was actually burning, traffic cameras were broadcasting images of the towering flames and plumes of smoke. Motorists on the 401 actually helped bring passengers to the airport after they escaped the plane and started walking around, dazed, on the side of the highway. News of the spectacular escape and fiery crash has made headlines around the world, particularly since the Airbus model involved has never crash landed before. There was, however, a very serious thunderstorm, with reasonably sized hail pellets, affecting the region at the time.

George Bush has also raised some controversy by appointing John Bolton as the new US Ambassador to the UN. Bush used something called a recess appointment which allows the President to make appointments while the Senate is in recess, which it is for the month of August.1 Many Democrats protested the move since Bolton had been rejected twice by the Senate when his nomination was filibustered each time it came up. Because it was a recess appointment, Bolton can only keep the position until a new Senate is formed in early 2007. Bolton wasted no time in laying in to Iran and Syria after his first vote on the Security Council.

The Chinese mission to the UN and Bolton representing the US have agreed to block any extension of the Security Council permanent seats. The US wanted to see an extension including its ally Japan, but wanted it limited to only 2 or 3 seats. China agreed with the extension of 5 seats but does not want Japan to have a permanent seat on the council. So the US and China, both veto wielding members, will block any extension of the permanent seats.

Finally Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, terrorist mastermind and number 2 man in Al Qaeda released a videotaped statement today. He was blaming Blair for the terrorist attacks ravaged upon the London public transit system. al-Zawahiri mentioned bin Laden in his statement but he was nowhere to be seen. And al-Zawahiri was in front of a plain tarp, unfortunately giving no indication of where he might be hiding. He also mentioned that attacks will continue on western targets. The video was shown first on Al Jazeera.