Friday, December 22, 2006
We just need to hang on a bit longer, and make a difference in everything we do. Simple as that, eh?
Anyway, Happy Christmas everyone, and remember those less fortunate this year....there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Last night it was all confirmed for me, and in the most shocking way.
How often can you say that something you have seen, or something someone else has done, can change you? In this time of bleak outlook, when the pervading feeling seems to be 'how can just one of us make a difference in this world', this movie marks a stepping stone towards revolution.
How can one person make a difference? Well, for a start, you can watch this movie. Giving the truth, or at least presenting the facts, of what really happened on September 11th 2001 in the most free country on earth. The man who created this movie has set in motion a chain of events that will cause an uprising against the government if it is spread to enough people.
Which is where we all come in. Watch this movie, share this movie. Copy it onto disc, give it to your friends and family, hand it out to strangers in the street.
Contact your college's cinema society and urge them to screen it in your campus.
Get the word out there, and show people what's really happening in this world of smoke-screens and greed.
The truth of 911 is out there, and it's not pretty.
Do it now!!!!!!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Nothing to do with the 2 billion a year Ireland makes on alcohol and ciggies duty, oh no!
Number 2: The M50 was so bad last night that people were abandoning their cars and peeing in ditches, or running out of petrol and having to just leave the car! One person took three hours to get three miles. Another woman, who I heard on the radio, left Clondalkin at 5.10, and got to her house in Bray at 8.45 that night. How nuts is that?!?! People were going absolutely crazy, and it was all because of a hole in the road to fix a burst water main.........'emergency' works, that just HAD to be done at rush hour!!
Even though they knew about it Tuesday evening.
They informed the Gardaí, but didn't think to tell AA roadwatch or the radio stations, so that people could be warned to avoid the area.
There'll be murder over this!! When will this country catch on to the continental/better way of doing things – roadworks during the night, when there’s no mental traffic!! How much traffic-jams/sanity/deaths would THAT save?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I travel the Luas – Sandyford line, the nightmare run. I’m about to say something terrible, something that will have most people thinking I am a prejudice toad – but this is my only section-of-society-that-I-can’t-stand flaw, I swear! I have a thing about Southsiders…I dislike them on sight, and they are ‘guilty until proven innocent’ as far as being decent people is concerned. I have friends who would be considered Southsiders, but it took some time for us to actually make it to friendship – some time, and some serious effort!
Now, I’m not talking about people from the South of Dublin when I say Southsiders, because ‘Southsiders’ can come from anywhere outside of this postal code – Smithfield, Swords, Wicklow Town, Meath. I’m talking about that West-Brit class of people who say ‘Dort’ instead of Dart, ‘Gorda’ instead of Garda and consider six inches of make-up, heavily-straightened-then-tousled hair, orange tan, and Ugg boots with O’Neills tracksuits the height of style. Those morons typified by their slavish regard for labelled clothes, and their air of money. The type of people who talk very loudly to each other about Fiachra and Marie-Claire, and what they got up to at this, like, totally crazy party they all went to Sunday night. The ones who buy SUV’s for a life in the centre of the city, and proceed to cause traffic every morning by driving their precious one child half a mile to school. Where does this accent come from? What is wrong with their brains that they can’t get past the most superficial of conversation topics? Why do they consider the GHD to be a must-have in any make-up bag?
I have to stand with them every day on the Luas, people who make my skin crawl with their total disregard for world events, or even for happenings in their own country. So sickeningly benign in their superficial lives, they look forward to a life of ease – prep school, followed by Trinners-for-Winners, followed by a year out to travel (paid for by Daddy) so that they can, like, totally see the world, you know? and really live like common people, followed by marriage to a surgeon/dentist/financier/stockbroker for the women, or blond, fake-tanned, lady-what-lunches for the men. It’s a world that beggars my belief totally – how someone can move through life so totally convinced of their own importance, yet contributing nothing to the world around them. Paying lip service to charity and democracy, while simultaneously slipping bribes to the council to add a second extension to their house, and pricing the rest of us out of the property market by buying third and fourth homes. Their world is one of selfishness and artifice, and they will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.
And then I won’t have to squash up next to them on my Luas journey.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Alarm goes off at 5.50, I turn it off and go back to sleep. Alarm goes off at 6.00. I wake up, lay in bed thinking 'God, it's getting late, I'd better get up since I still have to wash my hair'.
Alarm goes off at 6.05, and I am pleasantly surprised, because I thought it was later.
Get towel, and go up to the bathroom. Have a bath in bathroom, with shower, so that you can kneel beside the bath and just wash your hair with the shower head when you are too lazy/cold/frightened to have a full shower.
This is my plan.
Bunch of towels lying over the bath from previous users. One of them is lying inside the bath, and will get wet if I wash my hair. I grab this offending towel with just a touch of annoyance and pull it out of the bath. HUGE black thing flips into the air and nearly lands on me, but just misses and falls back on the rest of the towels. I look down to see what it is. At the precise moment where screeching horror music would kick in, I see that it's a GIGANTIC black spider...and I mean huge! Pretty much the same size, if not bigger, than the one that almost knifed me in my sitting room a few weeks ago.
The kind of spider that looks like it traps small aeroplanes in its web instead of flies.
I let out a blood-curdling scream but, since my parents dwell in a completely different part of the house, nobody comes to my rescue. I go to get a magazine to kill the spider, even though it would be like swatting a small dog. I return to the bathroom and stand on the toilet so that he can't run out of the towels, over my bare feet, and up my pyjama leg. I have the distinct impression that if this were to happen, I might actually die of panic. I try to swat him with the magazine, but the towels are cushioning the blow, and I can't get a clear hit. It seems like I'm just angering him. Suddenly, one of my whacks glances, and he bounces off, nearly landing on the toilet with me. I slip in my efforts not to let his hairy leggy body touch me, and nearly fall off the toilet, which suddenly seems unnaturally high.
I can't take it anymore. I throw all the towels onto the ground in a wild hysteria, with him hopefully trapped in their folds, then give the soft bundle a few quick stamps. I manically intake breath, then run out of the bathroom and slam the door, never to return.
I am forced to take a shower in my parents en suite.
Monday, November 06, 2006
"Bono, Tax Avoider: The hypocrisy of U2"
A familiar paradox about leftist celebrities in the entertainment industry is that their embrace of progressivism almost never includes a wholehearted embrace of progressive taxation, i.e., the principle that the richer you get, the larger the percentage of your income you ought to pay in taxes. The latest example is U2's Bono, a committed and unusually sophisticated anti-poverty crusader who is taking surprisingly little heat for the decision by his band, U2, to relocate its music-publishing business from Ireland to the Netherlands in order to shelter its song writing royalties from taxation.
The irony was stated in admirably stark terms by Bloomberg's Fergal O'Brien, who reported on Oct. 16:
Bono, the rock star and campaigner against Third World debt, is asking the Irish government to contribute more to Africa. At the same time, he's reducing tax payments that could help fund that aid.
"Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market ... that's a justice issue," Bono said at a prayer breakfast attended by President Bush, Jordan's King Abdullah, and various members of Congress earlier this year. Preaching this sort of thing has made Bono a perennial candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. He continued:
Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents ... that's a justice issue. Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents ... that's a justice issue.
And relocating your business offshore in order to avoid paying taxes to the Republic of Ireland, where poverty is higher than in almost any other developed nation? Bono's hypocrisy seems even more naked when you consider that Ireland is a tax haven for artists. In June 2005, Bono (who was born in Dublin) told the Belfast Telegraph:
Our publishing, which is about one third of our income, we have tax breaks on, and that's great and that's encouraged us to stay in Ireland and if that changes, it's not going to affect anything for U2. ...
Six months later, Ireland's finance minister announced a ceiling of $319,000 on tax-free incomes, and six months after that, U2 opened its Amsterdam office. The relocation of U2's music publishing will halve taxes on the band's song writing royalties, which already reportedly total $286 million. Although Bono has declined to comment on the move, the band's lead guitarist, David "the Edge" Evans, said, "Of course we're trying to be tax-efficient. Who doesn't want to be tax-efficient?'" Writing in the Observer, Nick Cohen noted that Evans "sounded as edgy as a plump accountant in the 19th hole."
U2's tax-shelter scheme caused uproar in Ireland when the story broke there in August. But it's scarcely raised a ripple in the United States. A conservative would argue that's because in this country, we don't begrudge a man the opportunity to keep what he earns off the sweat of his brow (or even off the sweat of someone else's brow) ... even if that man spends half his time trying to goad governments into spending more to alleviate poverty. But a liberal could answer that in the United States, we are so used to seeing rich people avoid taxation that even a wealthy hypocrite who shelters his cash abroad can no longer qualify as news.
Posted November 4, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
It feels funny writing ‘dear’, since nothing about your company is ‘dear’ except the pricing of your inferior goods. However, to be formal, I will bow to convention and address you as above. I’ve been boycotting your products for many years now – since I was 12, in fact. I won’t lie to you, it has had its harder moments, and I have had slippages. During a Lentan fast to raise money for Concern, I snuck a Drifter from the tuck shop in school, and a couple of months ago I bought a packet of Jelly Tots, forgetting that your nefarious reach has now also tainted Rowntrees.
Despite these slips, I feel that I have conducted myself well in the boycott – explaining my choice to as many people as possible, and finding some very willing to follow suit and join the good fight. What follows is my testimony as to why I continue with the battle, even in the face of continued rise in earnings for your company.
One of the more arrant corporate wrongs perpetrated on the third world poor has been to encourage young mothers to purchase expensive baby formula to feed their newborn babies. Nestlé, being the Swiss corporate giant you are, did this through incredibly unsubtle and irresponsible marketing techniques. Giving the poor hospitals of Africa beautiful multicoloured brochures of young mothers in radiantly clean modern rooms of white, feeding their attractive babies, with their model husbands standing by to embrace mother and child lovingly. Along with this fantastic brochure, these young mothers got a few bags of the baby formula for free. So far, you are performing to standard, Nestlé – for what are you offering that isn’t needed? Well, for one thing, breastfeeding is relegated to a second place option, and the mother now feels that to give her baby the best in life, she must purchase this formula. For another thing, the formula is very expensive – so expensive, in fact, that a mother might starve herself or her other children to buy the baby formula, so that she can live up to this perfect model of motherhood given to her in the promotional brochure.
Areas of Africa most beset by poverty have no clean supply of water, and labour under a general lack of knowledge within the population as to the health risks associated with drinking tainted supplies. The lack of information given to these young mothers causes them to mix the baby formula with this water, choosing this First World food over her own healthier, and more sanitary, breast milk. Even in instances where the water is clean, to make the formula last longer the mother will often water it down rather than force another expense upon her and her family. Whatever pathetic nutritional value the formula had now becomes nonexistent, and puts the child at risk of malnutrition. The situation with dirty water can bring on acute and chronic conditions on babies, which can last the rest of their lives, and in particularly horrific situations, can bring about the death of a newborn.
The World Health Organisation has consistently admonished Nestlé for their advertising practices in Africa. The advertising laws in relation to the selling of baby milk formula clearly attempt to prevent companies from:
1. Advising the use of baby milk products instead of breast milk.
2. Comparing the products to breast milk
3. Advertising alternatives to breast milk without providing sufficient information in that advertisement.
You contravene international marketing laws by printing your packaging instructions in English, and you do not advise young mothers on the necessity of using clean water – does human life not matter to you? Obviously not, since you continue to present your be-pictured brochures showing these uneducated, frightened, young mothers that formula is better than breast milk, and you skirt laws by never blatantly saying it within the pages – just leave them with the suggestion that life is better with Nestlé. You continue with your plan to prey on the poor and uninformed, leaving death and disease in your wake, and I refuse to support you by buying your products.
Other just as valid reasons for my total hatred of your company and everything you stand for are as follows:
Your children's cereals are incredibly expensive, and have a huge amount of added sugar. The sugar content of Honey Nut Cheerios, for example, runs at 35.2% - over a third of the total. They also contain overly generous helpings of salt – using Honey Nut Cheerios as an example again, a recommended serving will give me half a gram of salt, which is quite a large portion of my recommended six grams for the whole day…from a sweet cereal! This wouldn’t bother me so much, except that your advertising consistently shouts that they are healthy and have added vitamins…synthetic vitamins that you add after you have over processed the cereal, removing the natural vitamins. Examples of some of your horrible-sounding ingredients are: Partially Inverted Brown Sugar Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Trisodium Phosphate, Flavouring, Antioxidant, Tocopherols. What you say is healthy is really just, let’s be honest, crap, and you can give away as many school books as you want, and claim to support children’s wellbeing as much as you like, but my children will not be eating your cereals.
Your company treats coffee farmers across the world abominably, despite attempts by right-minded individuals to make the coffee trade a fairer one. Millions of people are out of work by your refusal to trade fairly or to concede any ground at all in your moneyed interests. You bully powerless people, you destroy businesses and you continue to refuse to include Fair Trade coffee in your range – declining to even give your own customers a choice.
Nestlé, you misrepresent the way you do business, and you cause immense suffering to real people around the world. You employ hundreds of marketing and advertising men to spin the truth, but why don’t you just try investing the thousands wasted on these spin-doctors back into the poor and dispossessed people you mistreat and bully?
As a conglomerate corporation, it drives me crazy that your dirty little fingers are in every pie, and seemingly intent on world domination. Coffee, chocolate, cereals, pet food, and soft drinks – you buy brands like penny sweets. I don't want to buy anything you have anything to do with, and I resent the fact that you're making it so difficult for me.
Your promotions are designed to blackmail parents into buying a nutritionally poor, ridiculously sweet cereal for their children's breakfasts. Books for kids, sponsored breakfast weeks – you, yet again, prey on those who know no better.
To summarise all of the above as succinctly as possible, everything you do is underhand and dirty, and I resent every attempt you make to wheedle your way into my supermarket trolley.
I check every packet, every label, for any hint of your name, and if it’s there – no matter how much I love Drifters, and miss Cheerios, and want Maybelline foundation – there is no way I will be purchasing your products. Nor will my children, my children’s children, or, if I have anything to do with it, my extended family, my neighbours, or my friends.
One way or another, it will all come back to you, Nestlé – and I will be in the cheering crowd when your back’s finally against the wall.
Yours sincerely, and with the intention of your eventual demise as a company,
Some recognisable products that Nestlé own or part own
(taken from http://www.babymilkaction.org/pages/products.html).
It may surprise you how much they actually control:
Perrier, Vittel, Milo, Nesquik, Nestea, Rowntree ice creams, Ski yogurts, Sveltesse yogurts, Buitoni pasta & canned foods
Rowntrees Jellies, Cheerios & Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon and Golden Grahams Clusters, Shreddies, Fitnesse, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies
Aero, After Eights, Animal Bar, Black Magic, Drifter, Fruit Pastilles, Jellytots, Kit Kat, Lion Bar, Milky Bar, Munchies, Quality Street, Rolo, Rowntrees Fruit Gums, Smarties, Toffee Crisp, Walnut Whip, Willy Wonka, Yorkie
Garnier, Colgate Dental Gum, Lancome, L'Oreal, Maybelline
Felix, Friskies, Winalot
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It all began, as the Chemical Brothers put it, in Africa. A story I read in the Irish Times of protests in Nigeria led to my campaign, and I have extracted a paragraph from ‘The Other Shell Report 2003’ (http://gcmonitor.org//downloads/shellreport_behindtheshine.pdf), which explains it best:
“Ken Saro-Wiwa was president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), an organization fighting to defend the environmental and human rights of the Ogoni people.
Since the late 1950’s, Shell has been operating in Nigeria, extracting more than US$30 billion of oil and contaminating the farmland and fisheries of the Ogoni. Many of the fish and wildlife in the area have vanished. Ken Saro-Wiwa mobilized his people to demand compensation from Shell for oil spills on Ogoni farmland and in the wetlands, rivers, and streams of the Niger Delta. In January 1993, Ken brought together 300,000 Ogoni who took to the streets in the largest demonstration against an oil company in history.
In May 1994, Ken was abducted from his home and arrested with other MOSOP leaders for the alleged murder of four Ogoni leaders. In October 1995, despite the protests of people around the world, including government officials from other countries and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Ken and eight co-defendants were convicted by a military tribunal and hanged. Many Ogoni believe that the only crime committed by Ken Saro-Wiwa was his daring to stand up to Shell.”
“Ken Saro-Wiwa, a well-known Nigerian award-winning author and activist, was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995.”
At the moment, Shell is continuing it’s aggressively awful environmental policy around the world – extending their black fingers to Ireland. From www.shellfacts.com, here are some of the worst offences highlighted to the Shell AGM recently:
“In the Niger Delta, where Shell sources 10 per cent of its oil, the company's failure to invest in technology results in 700 millionscf/d of gas being burnt off into the environment, an increase on last year, despite a commitment to end flaring by 2008. Gas flaring wastes energy, contributes to global warming and pollutes the environment. But gas flaring has become an every-day feature for the communities in the Delta. Oil spills are also common - with 9,900 barrels of oil spilt in 2003. Oil spills are frequently left rather than cleaned up, contaminating farmland, water courses and fish supplies.
In Texas, Shell is facing legal action from the community living next door to its operations in Port Arthur who are literally sick of the pollution in their backyard. Some 1,200 residents are alleging air, soil and other contamination due to the release of "noxious fumes, vapours, odours and hazardous substances" from the Motiva refinery, which processes 235,000 barrels of oil a day.
Legal wrangles also face Shell in the Philippino capital Manila where the company's oil depot is sited in the centre of a residential community; and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the company stands accused of contaminating drinking water and causing serious health problems including cancers, infertility and respiratory diseases.
On the Caribbean island of Curaçao, Shell walked away from these problems, selling its refinery to the Government in 1985 after operating for more than 70 years. Pollution from the refinery has contaminated the small island which is surrounded by 20 km of coral reef, and severely damaged the health of the community with complaints of premature deaths, cancers, birth defects, bronchitis, skin diseases and asthma. Local residents are now campaigning to hold Shell liable.
In Louisiana, where community campaigner Margie Richard was this year awarded the Goldman Prize for her campaign for environmental justice from Shell, the community is still fighting for the right to health care after years of exposure to pollution from Shell's refinery in Norco. Shell responded by commissioning a study of community perceptions and not health.”
Sourced from http://www.shellfacts.com
So, it began with the deaths of innocents in Africa, and has continued through their abuses and waiving of international laws, and total disregard for human life. They trod on those who cannot fight back, and as usual the cry of those without a voice barely dints this First World. Therefore, I'll boycott Shell for as long as I can, and have recently added Statoil to my list of stations I will not support with my hard-earned money…since their jumping into bed with Shell on the Corrib gas line in Ireland.
DEATH TO SHELL OIL
Friday, October 20, 2006
‘The “dangerous class,” the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of old society.’
Here we see Marx’s conception of the Lumpenproletariat, a group that stands on the very margins of the class system because they are not wholly integrated into the division of labour. They do not accept the idea of making their living by regular work. Thus, their position within society is not marked by the fact that they are unemployed but rather by the fact that they do not seek employment:
‘the lumpenproletariat, which in all big towns forms a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat, a recruiting ground for thieves and criminals of all kinds living on the crumbs of society, people without a definite trade, vagabonds, gens sans feu et sans aveu [men without hearth or home], varying according to the degree of civilization of the nation to which they belong, but never renouncing their lazzaroni character’.
Though they may be swept up by a proletarian revolution and are entirely capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices”, they are equally capable of “the barest banditry and the foulest corruption”, and are much more likely to play the part of “a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue.”
Essentially, they are a malleable populace that is generally tempted into service of sight, as opportunistic and exploitative as the finance aristocracy. “The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletrait on the heights of bourgeois society”, Just like the aristocracy, the Lumpen live off society, rather than producing for it, existing as an entirely parasitic force.
The Black Panthers’ basic understanding of the Lumpenproletariat generally conforms to that of Marx. For Eldridge Cleaver, the Lumpenproletariat were those who had “no secure relationship or vested interest in the means of production and the institutions of a capitalist society.” His wife echoed a similar sentiment, stating that the black Lumpenproletariat had absolutely no stake in industrial America: “They existed at the bottom level of society…outside the capitalist system that was the basis for the oppression of black people.”
The Panthers included two distinct groups within the Lumpen. Firstly the “Industrial Reserve army”, who could not find a job, being unskilled and unfit, displaced by mechanization and never invested with new skills, forced to rely on Welfare or receiving State Aid. They consisted of ‘the millions of black domestics and porters, nurses’ aides and maintenance men, laundresses and cooks, sharecroppers, unpropertied ghetto dwellers, welfare mothers’ The second group were the so-called “Criminal Element”, who had similarly been locked out of the economy, and consisted of the ‘gang members and the gangsters, the pimps and the prostitutes, the drug users and dealers, the common thieves and murderers’.
The “Criminal Element” quite evidently displayed the key characteristics of the Lumpen, the parasite, “existing off that which they rip off”. However, the “Industrial Reserve Army” poses something of a problem, since a large proportion of this group consists of the working poor (although their jobs are “irregular and usually low paid’ they are the working poor all the same). But Marx explicitly stated that the Lumpenproletariat formed “a mass sharply differentiated from the industrial proletariat.” However, the Panthers viewed the line that separated the proletariat and the lumpen as tenuous and fragile, and this resulted in a blending of the two classes. Indeed, some historians have argued that the Panthers “envisioned a lumpen more akin to a subproletariat class” that lacked the parasitical aspects of the traditional lumpen sector.”
Amended version of paragraphs from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_panthers
Thursday, October 19, 2006
THE PRESIDENT: Last night the government of North Korea proclaimed to the world that it had conducted a nuclear test. We're working to confirm North Korea's claim. Nonetheless, such a claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond.
This was confirmed this morning in conversations I had with leaders of China, and South Korea, Russia, and Japan. We reaffirmed our commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and all of us agreed that the proclaimed actions taken by North Korea are unacceptable and deserve an immediate response by the United Nations Security Council.
The North Korean regime remains one of the world's leading proliferator of missile technology, including transfers to Iran and Syria. The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States, and we would hold North Korea fully accountable of the consequences of such action.
The United States remains committed to diplomacy, and we will continue to protect ourselves and our interests. I reaffirmed to our allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan, that the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments.
Threats will not lead to a brighter future for the North Korean people, nor weaken the resolve of the United States and our allies to achieve the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Today's claim by North Korea serves only to raise tensions, while depriving the North Korean people of the increased prosperity and better relations with the world offered by the implementation of the joint statement of the six-party talks. The oppressed and impoverished people of North Korea deserve that brighter future.
The satire, courtesy of the brilliant www.whitehouse.org
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans. Shortly before 10:30 this morning, I was roused from my bed by an assistant, and informed that North Korea's Kim Jong Il – the secretive, delusional egomaniac who only became a leader on account of his famous daddy (rolls eyes incredulously) – has announced his country's first-ever nukular weapon test.
Clearly, this a major, historicalistic development; the kind of crisis that makes folks hunger for the sort of rugged, pioneering, bulging-codpiece leadership they've come expect from me during the many, many absolute catastrophes I've caused or made worse. And though there were no cameras there to capture the moment, I want to assure America that I came through yet again: because when they told me that a crazy Chinkotronic leprechaun had the Bomb, only the teensy-weensiest little lump of Texas topsoil seeped out into the Presidential PJ's. (Thumbs up.)
I do confess that it came as a huge surprise that any component of my genius foreign policy wasn't worked perfectly. I mean, I thought I had it down to a science: rain wave after wave of horrific violence on spent, impotent dictators, while actively ignoring psychotic despots who are publicly promising to develop weapons of mass destruction. Who'd a thunk things could go wrong?
I'm reminded of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day?" You know the part where that tough chick with the big hoo-has is at the playground and she sees all the kids playing, and the starts rattling and banging on the fence trying to get their attention, and all the other mothers are just ignoring her because they think she's crazy, and then there's this huge explosive holocaust that kills everyone and turns the chick into a Kentucky Fried corpse, and the explosion takes out like an entire goddamn city, and you're like, "Whooooooa?" Great scene, right?
I always thought that if anyone in the real world was unleashing explosive holocausts, it would be ME, and the city would be actually be an bunch of caves or mosques or kimchee factories, or wherever evildoers live. (And the chick would have bigger tits.) But with today's developments in Koreastan, it turns out I was a little bit off the mark. Now, the city might be Jew York or Homowood, California, and explosion can be courtesy of some slanty-eyed nerd with a bad haircut.
And so tonight, I have a message for Kim Jong Il:
Listen up, Dogbreath – because I want to make one thing clear: Sure, you may have the Bomb. Sure, one of my first acts as President may have been dismantling the one treaty that could have convinced you it would be a bad idea to use it. Sure, I've been deliberately ignoring you like the smelly kid in class who always wears sweatpants, when all you've ever wanted in your life was for someone to give you five minutes of attention. But know this: you may feel like a big boy now that you've got some fancy nukes at your disposal, but I've got a pretty nifty trick of my own: nicknames. When I give a nickname to something, it sticks, and my new name for North Korea is "Iraq 2."
Yes, the USA Unilateral Pre-Emptive War Machine ball is already rolling, my friend. I got on the horn first thing this afternoon, and I started talking at some other world leaders, and I am using a combination of threats, brute force and complete ignorance about your country, culture, and people to alienate them as we speak. Soon, the only people with the will to stand up to you will be us and the Limeys, and you see how well we've done in Texraq. So give it up, you four-eyed Asiatic gopher! If you think I'm not up to the challenge of throwing wave after wave of the disposable lower class losers who make up the military I pretend to respect at your impregnable fortress of a country, you've got another thing coming. What do you think about that, you sissy little pygmy?
I'll be waiting for your reply. At a secret location. In a super, super-deep bunker. Snug and safe.
Good luck, America.
P.S. Have you typed the word 'failure' into Google lately? Perhaps you should....
Monday, October 09, 2006
It’s a test with only one question, but it's a very important one…by giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally (which is important for us all to know). The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.
Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line. Good luck.
You are in Florida, Miami to be specific. There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions. You are photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water.
Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.
Suddenly you see a woman in the water. She is fighting for her life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer. Somehow the woman looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is. It's the Queen.
At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take her under forever. You have two options--you can save the life of the Queen, or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most famous women.
Here's the question, and please give an honest answer....
Would you select high contrast colour film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Highlights? OK then! Musically, the highlight was most definitely MC Mellie Mel - some old-school (literally) hip-hop, and general laughter to be had - danced like a wild thing, and enjoyed every slide-to-the-left-everybody-say-HEY moment! Cut Chemist then WOWED me with his skills (intense...), and I was also thrilled with the old stalwarts - Damo Rice and Lisa Hannigan. The acoustic Super Furry's also put a little shiver through the tuning fork. Eh, there was way more music to be had, but it is so hard to remember! I went to see a bit of everything, though. I'll have to have a twinkle about it and try to remember details...look at the old music map!
Saw some deadly comedy acts - not least the Ballyers Eric Lawlor and Willa White, with the superb Des Bishop being the highlight on Sunday night.
Food-wise I had a great steak burger, a bloody lovely indian, an alright chinese, an overrated pie, and a gorgeous crepe...all in all a well eaten weekend, and I would definitely partake in future! Anyone who gives you your chinese noodle curry in a deadly fold-over cardboard box (like the New York ones) with chopsticks is A-OK in my book!
I didn't buy anything at the market. I was on a strict budget (those who saw the messy will-it-won't-it-give-us-food-poisoning barbeque can bear testimony), so the old moneyed fare had to take a back seat.
I spent time in the Body & Soul area, but mostly just to chill out and relax. Not for massage or anything - I find all that stuff a bit creepy, if I'm honest, and bow to the Jerry Seinfeld school of feeling uncomfortable to be receiving that much pleasure! The Chill Out stage, in a natural amphitheatre, was pretty amazing, and I had some good times there...rain or no rain!
The art work was uniformly mediocre, with flashes of inspiration. So there.
I didn't get to go to the silent disco! The queues were so long every night, that it just felt like when I got to the top they'd say 'sorry love, no wellies tonight', and I'd just have to stumble back to my campsite!
Didn't do paintball. Didn't have the co-ordination!
The Cinema was slightly less than amazing. Dirty and not very comfy, it kinda went against what I thought the cinema would be! It needed more cushions, beanbags, and a 'don't put your wellies on the seats' sign...but I watched a bit of 'Waking Life', which I enjoyed, but everyone else thought was up it's own hole, and saw bits and pieces of other things. Didn't stay for a whole movie - the screen was too small! Although I am a self-confessed movie snob, so you should probably assume it was alright....
Damien Rice's 'Big Tree' thing was a bit of a flop. The sound was aggressively shite throughout, and he was the only one I bothered staying around for. The rest of the music was of the whiney variety which, even if the sound had have been perfect, would probably still have sounded pretty pants! Damien, I admire the sentiment, but try to keep those wily feet planted on the ground, so that you can actually think of the technicalities of it all in future!!
Didn't get into a Poetry Slam, or any of the debates. The tent was very small, and always full. Saw a bit of the 'Jesus of Guantanamo' thing, but the guy doing it was just too D4 for words, and wasn't that funny.
Had a good chat with some Amnesty people buzzing around the festival, and I hope they got some new people signed up to this essential cause. Although the whole 'toast to peace' thing was piss.....they did it at 9.50, instead of 10 (like they'd been telling everyone for hours), so loadsa people missed out. And it was over too quickly, without ceremony, after the awful Yeah Yeah Yeahs (no no no). Bit of a flop!
But, yeah, all in all the festival was fantastic, and if I wasn't planning to be in my favourite place this time next year (anywhere but here), I'd be at it again with bells on!!!
Woo hooo for Electric Picnic - an adult festival at last (although I made a bit of a boo-boo, and bought coke-sized cans of Bulmers. Looked like I was training to drink - they were STABALISER cans....felt like a twat....)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Friday I will enjoy; Damien Rice, PJ Harvey, Mogwai, Stereotonic DJ's, The Rumours. Saturday; Groove Armada, New Order, The Frames, Bloc Party, Belle & Sebastian, Super Furry Animals, DJ Shadow, Graham Coxon, 2 Many DJ's, Messiah J & The Expert. Sunday; Pet Shop Boys (for the laugh), Basement Jaxx, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gnarls Barkley, Rufus Wainwright…and much more!
Joy in the Hood TV peeps, Eric Lawlor and Willa White, Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds (fresh from glowing reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), Naked Camera's PJ Gallagher and Maeve Higgins, Jason Byrne, Neil Delamere (not hilarious, but alright), Karl Spain, Gerry Mallon, Des Bishop.
“The Electric Picnic is very proud to be able to provide a hugely diverse variety of high quality healthy food options – organic where possible, to suit all palettes and many vegetarian & vegan choices. Thai curries, Japanese noodles, Mexican burritos, French crepes, smoked fish tapas, hot bread, organic vegan snacks, fresh Irish chowder, bagels, maple & pecan or organic Green & Blacks chocolate porridge, Fair Trade coffee, freshly squeezed juice bars, herbal teas & chai lattes plus organic ice-creams are just a small taster from the overall Picnic menu.”
“The Market Area features an eclectic and exotic assortment of handmade clothes, jewellery and artefacts from Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Africa, Thailand, Russia, Peru, Tibet, Bali and Indian plus lots of other little treats and trinkets. Watch out for the gorgeous lantern stall, plus the wacky Bubble Inc & Fairylove stalls, all of which add a little sprinkle of magic to the weekend!”
Body & Soul 2006:
“70 of Ireland's finest holistic therapists offering sessions ranging from Swedish Massage to Deep Tissue Massage, Shiatsu to Thai Massage, and Tarot Card Reading to Palmistry. There will be experiential workshops in Indian Head Massage, Belly Dancing, African Drumming, Overtone Singing, Dance, Meditation and Yoga. The small but beautiful Chill Stage is nestled in a natural amphitheatre for musicians and performers whose music aims to soothe the soul and subtly wiggle the hips and you can enjoy acoustic music and story telling by the fireside at various tipis.
Nourish your belly with organic food, sushi, Fair Trade and holistic goodies.
There's the ambient lounge with beanbags, thought provoking documentaries, performance and installation art and chai..........and just you wait until night time when it all comes alive! Committing random acts of kindness is our only request (and some litter picking too, so that even nature can have a rest!) Come along and find what you find and take some of it back home!”
“Catalyst are a team of creative individuals who encourage unrestricted creative freedom and interaction. They will be transforming a space and in the process create a highly decorative, comfortable, sociable and beautiful space using an eclectic range of ideas and talents. They aim to feature creativity in all aspects. From the geodesic dome complete with soothing lighting effects, hammocks, cushions & projections, to the three 'flower seats' with flora & fauna décor, the space-hopper seating for bouncing, chilling or inevitably sleeping!
There are sculptures designed out of scrap metal and a 8ft tall motorized drumming robot!
They will have an amazing cartoonist and foam sculptor on site who will be knocking up painted sculptures.
There will also be workshops and performances throughout the day from the good natured ridiculousness of the crew, silly costume and spontaneous spinning and juggling.”
In the Silent Disco everybody who joins in gets given a wireless headphone. The sound is superb, as is the spectacle (apparantly). A radio deejay show gives a tour through very varied music styles.
Artists, sculptors, street performers, jugglers, stilt-walkers, magicians
The most advanced Base Camp in Irish Paintball will be open to Electric Picnic festival goers
Joy of joys!!! Dressed with dramatic velvet draping, giant beanbags and popcorn on hand. Running 24 hours - around the clock all weekend - a wide selection of cult classic and music films chosen by you the festival goers will be shown including:
The Big Lebowski
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
Team America: World Police
The Royal Tenenbaums
and many many more (tbc).
The Ireland qualifier football match will be shown on Saturday
The All Ireland Hurling will be shown on Sunday
A non-profit, eco-awareness area of the festival serving organic, Fair Trade food. “Big Tree was set up partly to give artists another outlet, outside of their 'official' performance at Electric Picnic, and also as a setting for impromptu performances & possible collaborations for artists performing elsewhere at the festival, where music continues into the night after the other stages at the festival close down. In addition, 20 native trees will be planted by the 'Native Woodland Trust' for every act who performs on the Big Tree stage and all remaining profit shall be given to a well established animal shelter in West Cork (see below for further details).
Friends of the Earth:
At Electric Picnic 2006 Friends of the Earth is giving festival goers the opportunity to raise their voice against climate change.
Participants will be able to challenge government leaders by making their personal Climate Pledge on a life-size speech bubble, such as "I will cycle to work more often and in return I want the government to invest more in public transport". Your photograph and pledge will go on the Friends of theEarth website and with this will form part of a massive video installation at the UN climate talks in Kenya in November, with pledges from around theworld. Friends of the Earth can also pass on your Climate Pledge to theIrish government which is running a public consultatuon on climate change until the end of September. At the Electric Picnic you can have your say and play your part in stopping climate chaos.
At last year's Electric Picnic people painted hundreds of messages to world leaders on wooden tiles which Friends of the Earth displayed with thousands more from around Europe in a huge mosaic at the UN talks in Montreal, where politicians agreed a new deal to strengthen the fight against climate change.You can see photos of messages from last year's festival in the Montrealmosaic on Friends of the Earth's Climate Pledge website.
The Leviathan Think Tank:
‘Poetry Slam’ with Emmy-award winning Raven (Los Angeles, US); Ben Kritikos (New York, US); and Brendan Murphy (Liverpool, UK) - winner of the 2006 Cúirt International Festival poetry slam. ‘Jesus of Guantanamo’ – highlights from Abie Philbin-Bowman’s satire. ‘Mars Bars and Baby Sharks’ – a panel of special guests including writers, musicians, artists and media types relate their favourite rock'n'roll myths and legends and read from their favourite books about music - from Led Zeppelin and the Hammer of the Gods to Ronan Keating's autobiography. ‘Speakers Corner' – from free speech initiatives, Rossa Ó Snodaigh (Kila founder member), Ciaron O’Reilly (Australian free speech and anti-war campaigner), Robbie Sinnot (journalist, campaigner and NEAR FM broadcaster) and special guests vent spleen and debate issues philosophical, temporal, Biblical and plain daft. Hecklers, orators and ranters welcome to join in. ‘Leviathan Political Cabaret’ – Ireland's only political cabaret, featuring a Molotov cocktail of debate, satire, music, comedy and cartoons, is hosted by writer and broadcaster David McWilliams. Incendiary interactive debate on topics such as "Is the music industry an empire in decline?", "Should all drugs be legalised?", with very special guest panellists from the media, the music business and beyond.
Amnesty International Irish Section:
“Electric Picnic is teaming up with Amnesty International Irish Section to bring a human rights dimension to this year's festival.
At Electric Picnic 2006, Amnesty International Irish Section will attempt to set a world record for the largest ever toast. The "Big Toast" is aimed at creating the largest toast "to freedom" in the world.
The significance of "…to freedom," lies in the very history of Amnesty. In 1961 Amnesty's founder, Peter Benenson was driven to action after reading of 2 Portuguese students sentenced to 7 years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom.
"To freedom from oppression, to freedom from human rights violations, to freedom from torture."
Amnesty's campaigning actions for the festival will focus on issues like torture, rendition and prisoners of conscience. Offering Electric Picnic participants the opportunity to take action on these issues, Amnesty volunteers will be circulating throughout Electric Picnic with postcard actions addressing human rights violations in Darfur, Palestine and Burma, to name a few. The Amnesty tent will be Human Rights Headquarters where people can find out more about the issues, take action, join Amnesty and participate in workshops on a variety of human rights issues.
Amnesty International is made up of ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights.
Amnesty's purpose is to protect individuals wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.”
Why can't the WORLD be like Electric Picnic???
Ssssssssssiiiiiiiiigggggghhhhhhhhhh - can't wait!!
Before Electric Picnic what am I doing???
Thursday 24 August - Radiohead
Friday 25 August - Daft Punk
Woo, and indeed, Hoo!!!
Friday, August 18, 2006
The US pressie used an expletive - filthy bugger - to describe Hezbollah's attack of Israel. They also discussed intense world issues like the exchange of gifts! The wheels of power, forever turning...'oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light....'
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing? Blair: I'm just...
Bush: You're leaving?
Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy...[indistinct]
Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
Bush: If you want me to.
Blair: Well, it's just that if the discussion arises...
Bush: I just want some movement.
Bush: Yesterday we didn't see much movement..
Blair: No, no, it may be that it's not, it may be that it's impossible.
Bush: I am prepared to say it.
Blair: But it's just I think that we need to be an opposition...
Bush: Who is introducing the trade?
Blair: Angela [Merkel, the German Chancellor]
Bush: Tell her to call 'em.
Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for the sweater - it's awfully thoughtful of you.
Blair: It's a pleasure.
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!
Bush: What about Kofi? [Annan] - he seems all right. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [indistinct] is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
Bush: I think Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is going to go pretty soon.
Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together.
Bush: Yeah, yeah.
Blair: But at least it gives people...
Bush: It's a process, I agree. I told her your offer to...
Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...
Blair: Dunno... Syria....
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...
Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah
Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way
Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is struggling.
Blair: He's had it. And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq.
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.
Blair: Is this...?
[Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.]
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
"How To Tell If Your Child Is a Potential Hippie
What You Can Do About It"
A 1970 P.T.A. Parent Education Pamphlet
by Jacqueline Himelstein
Your son or daughter may be flashing warning signals that he or she will soon drop out of society and join the "hippie" movement. If you know what to look for, you may be able to prevent it.
Four leading psychiatrists, Dr. Jean Rosenbaum of Santa Fe, New Mexico; Dr. Jack Leedy of New York City; Dr. Robert Bussell of Chicago and Dr. Norman R. Schakne of Detroit, agree that a combination of the following signs spells possible trouble for the parent as well as the child...
1. A sudden interest in a cult, rather than an accepted religion.
2. The inability to sustain a personal love relationship -- drawn more to "group" experiences.
3. A tendency to talk in vague philosophical terms, never to the point.
4. A demanding attitude about money but reluctance to work for it.
5. An intense, "far-out" interest in poetry and art.
6. Constant ridiculing of any form of organized government.
7. A righteous attitude, never admitting any personal faults.
8. An increasing absentee record at school.
9. The emergence of a devious nature, manipulating people for personal gain.
10. A tendency to date only members of different races and creeds.
"Naturally, some of these signs may be observed in perfectly normal adolescents, but it is when the majority of the traits are present that the child is on the way to becoming a 'hippie,'" Dr. Rosenbaum said.
"There are also the fairly obvious signs like shaggy hair and mod clothing. But those alone do not make a 'hippie.' Sometimes it's just a fad." Each of the psychiatrists offered advice to parents who are worried about the possibility of their child's becoming a "hippie."
Dr. Rosenbaum: "There must be a reconstruction of the family unit, with much expression of love. Parents should work and play with these young people to show that all the family members care about one another."
"There must be a great deal of dialogue -- sometimes very painful dialogue -- to establish a new position of belief for the young people. They will deny they're hostile until their last breath."
"Until that underlying hostility is brought out, the children will be keyed to rebel."
Dr. Leedy: "Family therapy is one ideal approach. Develop similar interests and hobbies. It's usually too late for the usual disciplinary measures when the child begins showing the 'hippie' signs. Discipline at that point might make him more hostile."
Dr. Bussell: "Have a good understanding and be more tolerant. Adolescence is at best and extremely disturbing time."
Dr. Schakne: "Learn to say 'no' when you have to. But explain your reasoning so that you maintain a communication link."
"The time to shape your child is in the pre-teen years. When your child reaches the teen-age level, the die has already been cast."
Friday, July 21, 2006
1. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan. Age 61. In power since 1989. Last year’s rank: 7
A colossal humanitarian tragedy in western Sudan’s Darfur region has uprooted 2 million people and killed 70,000, mostly through the activities of government-supported militias. This is nothing new in Sudan, where Omar al-Bashir, its dictator, has engaged in ethnic and religious persecution since seizing power in a military coup. Sudan has 6 million internally displaced persons—more than any other nation. In southern Sudan, where Christianity and traditional religions are practiced, Bashir tried to impose Islamic law in a campaign that included aerial bombing of villages and enslavement of women and children. His forces met with armed resistance, escalating to what some called a civil war between Muslims and Christians. (In Darfur, meanwhile, he has been killing Muslims.) Last month, Bashir signed a cease-fire with rebels in the south. It allows government troops to remain in southern Sudan and prohibits southerners from voting for independence for six years.
2. Kim Jong Il, North Korea. Age 62. In power since 1994. Last year’s rank: 1
Kim Jong Il slipped from first place, but not for want of trying. North Korea still ranks last in Reporters Without Borders’ international index of press freedom, and it earned Freedom House’s worst score for political rights and civil liberties for the 33rd straight year (a world record). The Ministry of People’s Security places spies in workplaces and neighbourhoods to inform on anyone who criticizes the regime, even at home. All radios and TV sets are fixed to receive only government stations. Disloyalty to Kim Jong Il and his late father, Kim Il Sung, is a punishable crime: Offences include allowing pictures of either leader to gather dust or be torn or folded. The population is divided into “loyalty groups.” One-third belong to the “hostile class.” These people receive the worst jobs and housing and may not live in the capital, Pyongyang. Below the hostiles are the estimated 250,000 held in prison camps, some for crimes allegedly committed by relatives. Executions often are performed in public.
3. Than Shwe, Burma. Age 72. In power since 1992. Last year’s rank: 2
In response to world opinion, Gen. Than Shwe freed 9000 prisoners, but hopes for a new liberalism faded when only 40 were political detainees (among more than 1000 still being held). The rest were common criminals. Than Shwe extended the house arrest of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won 80% of the vote in the last open election (1990). The arrest of opposition members resumed. Freedom of expression is not allowed; unlicensed possession of a fax machine or modem is punishable by 15 years in prison. To relocate ethnic minorities, the army destroyed 3000 villages and drove 1.2 million Burmese from their homes. In a landmark case, Unocal Corp. of California agreed to pay damages to Burmese villagers who said the military used torture, rape or murder to force them to work on the company’s pipeline.
4. Hu Jintao, China. Age 62. In power since 2002. Last year’s rank: 3
Despite China’s economic liberalization, President Hu Jintao’s government remains one of the most repressive. Some 250,000 Chinese are serving sentences in “re-education and labour camps.” China executes more people than all other nations combined, often for non-violent crimes. The death penalty can be given for burglary, embezzlement, counterfeiting, bribery or killing a panda. Hu’s government controls all media and Internet use. Defence lawyers who argue too vigorously for clients’ rights may be disbarred or imprisoned. And if minorities (such as Tibetans) speak out for autonomy, they’re labelled “terrorists,” imprisoned and tortured.
5. Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia. Age 81. In power since 1995. Last year’s rank: 5
Bending under strong international pressure, Crown Prince Abdullah and his family, who have absolute power, are holding Saudi Arabia’s first elections in 40 years—municipal elections, that is. Women may not vote or run for office, owing to “technical difficulties”: Most Saudi women don’t have the photo IDs needed to register; there aren’t enough female officials to register those who do; and men may not register women, because the sexes are forbidden to mingle in public. Worldwide, the royal family promotes an extreme form of Islam called Wahhabism, which considers all followers of other religions—even other Muslims—“infidels.” In 2004, the U.S. State Department added Saudi Arabia to its list of nations in which religious liberty is severely violated.
6. Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya. Age 62. In power since 1969.Last year’s rank: Dishonorable mention
Increasingly annoyed by other Arab leaders, Qaddafi—once considered a supporter of terrorism —has gone to great lengths to re-establish links with the West. He turned over a perpetrator of the 1988 terrorist bombing of an American commercial flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, and made substantial payments to families of the victims of both the Lockerbie bombing and that of a French plane. He gave up his nuclear weapons program and is opening his nation’s economy to foreign investment. Yet at home he continues to run a brutal dictatorship, maintaining total control over all aspects of Libyan life. Freedom of speech, assembly and religion are harshly restricted. Entire families, tribes and even towns can be punished for “collective guilt.” Political opposition and damaging public or private property are considered “crimes against the state.”
7. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan. Age 61. In power since 1999. Last year’s rank: Not mentioned
Two years after seizing power in a military coup that overthrew an elected government, Gen. Pervez Musharraf appointed himself president of Pakistan. He recently agreed to step down as head of the military, then reversed his decision, claiming that he was best suited to unite Pakistan’s contentious political and military elements. “The country is more important than democracy,” he said. Pakistan has endangered the world by spreading nuclear technology. Last year, it was discovered that Abdul Qadeer Khan, head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, had been selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran. As for civil liberties in Pakistan, a woman who has been raped may present her case only if she can produce four Muslim men who witnessed the attack.
8. Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan. Age 64. In power since 1990. Last year’s rank: 8
Niyazov has developed an overbearing personality cult that crushes dissent and invades all aspects of life in Turkmenistan, no matter how trivial. He controls his one-party state with torture, disappearances, detentions, house demolitions, forced labor and exile. He muzzles all media, and it is illegal to criticize any of his policies. Statues of Niyazov appear everywhere, and his picture is on all denominations of money. His “moral guide,” Rukhnama (Book of the Soul), is required reading for students, married couples and even applicants for a driver’s license. Female newscasters may not wear makeup, nor may young men wear beards, long hair or gold teeth.
9. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe. Age 80. In power since 1980. Last year’s rank: 4
After leading an anti-colonial war of liberation, Mugabe was elected Zimbabwe’s first prime minister, raising hopes for a new era of democracy. But he has turned increasingly dictatorial and run his country into the ground. Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33 years—among the lowest in the world. One of Mugabe’s many repressive laws deems it a crime “to make an abusive, indecent or obscene statement” about him. He continues to hold elections, but opposition is discouraged. Looking toward a vote in March, the parliament passed a law banning from Zimbabwe any human rights or civil liberties group that receives money from abroad. In other words, independent election monitors will not be allowed.
10. Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea. Age 62. In power since 1979. Last year’s rank: 6
Since major oil reserves were discovered there in 1995, U.S. oil companies have poured $5 billion into this tiny West African nation. Most of the oil income goes to President Obiang and his family, while the majority of the people live on less than $1 a day. Some American oil companies are being investigated for improprieties involving Obiang. The U.S. State Department has accused Obiang’s government of committing torture. In November 20 people—including 11 foreign nationals —were sentenced to prison for an alleged coup attempt. The only evidence against them, says Amnesty International, were confessions extracted through torture.
By David Wallechinsky
Published: February 13, 2005
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Just wanted to drop you a line to update you on the money your group raised in Peru.
As you know we bought paint for the school buildings at Soqma, new sandals for the kids at Corimarca, English language CDs and book for Wilbur, and furniture for a school in the jungle.
I attach photos of the new sandals and furniture. (See new bebo photo album)
The furniture took longer than expected to make, so wasn't taken to the community by Mendel. So, we bought a disposable camera and left it in the capable hands of a Manu Ecoadventuras (the jungle company he works for).
The trip left shortly before Mendel came over to the UK so we havent got the instant camera back yet.
Mendel and I are going back to Peru on holiday in October so I shall get hold of and develop the images on the camera and also get up to Socqma to get some snaps of the painted buildings...
As you know the left over cash we planned to give to the orphanage in the Sacred Valley. This will happen when I go back in October.
Enjoy the photos!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Though he lived on the edge of life these past years, he'll always be remembered for being larger than it all at the beginning. He'll be sadly missed.
"Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now theres a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the crossfire of childhood and stardom, blown on the steel breeze. Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine.
You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, rode on the steel breeze. Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine."
Prisoner no longer.
Roger 'Syd' Barret, 1946-2006.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Monday, July 03, 2006
Film Ireland is out today.
I have not yet managed to get hold of a copy.
Did 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' review, for magazine.
Don't know if I made the final cut yet......
PLEASE let me be published!!!!!
Friday, June 09, 2006
I have been back from Peru for over two months now, but it might as well be two years...it feels so distant, so unreal - like it wasn't really me at all! But I loved it there, and the experience of taking part was one of the most rewarding and influential of my life. I can't imagine feeling the same way about life ever again - and believe me, that is a good thing! I know this is a bit late in the day, but I felt I might as well put it on the internet, where it will remain for all eternity!
To take part in the trek, each participant had to raise €5000...thanks to people's generosity and help, I managed to raise close to €5400, which I am very proud of. I am also very proud of all my friends and family, who donated time, effort, money and sanity to my project. So, thanks to everyone - I couldn't possibly let you know how much I appreciate it all!
I had a fantastic time in Peru! It was immensely challenging, both physically and emotionally, but it was also the most rewarding thing I've ever done. We even arrived in Cusco for the Easter Festival, which was quite a spectacle - and lulled us into a false sense of security about how 'easy' this was all going to be!
Secondly, we managed to squeeze in a little extra charity once we had raised all our money to go. Most people taking part brought donations of children's clothes and school supplies, and we brought enough for three separate presentations, which were made to local children from schools along our route. Though I know that the €5400 that I raised will be sent to Concern's Primary Education Fund, and therefore on to parts of Africa devastated by AIDS and HIV, actually seeing children receive clothes that I had brought over, and seeing their joy and thanks for such small gifts, made more of an impression on me than all the money I had sent to Concern. Meeting these children, talking with them, and playing with them brought our own wealth home to me, and the situation so many others in the world - and even in our own country - find themselves caught in.
More children than were expected turned up at the third presentation, and we had run out of gifts. Instead, we measured their feet with the promise that we would buy sandals for the extra children. The sandals are made from old tyres, and cost the equivalent of €0.70 a pair. We made a collection amongst ourselves, and came up with $660 - the largest a group has donated. This fantastic amount of money not only bought sandals for the children, but it also painted their school, and went on to buy supplies for two other schools deep in the Peruvian jungle, which are in far greater need than even these children, high in the Andes.
Physically, the trek was most certainly a challenge. Day four, which you will see from the website, contains very few photo's. The reason for that is, quite simply, this day was my Waterloo!! I could barely stand upright, never mind hold a camera....
Starting from an already high-point of 3,700 meters, we rose at 4.30 a.m. that morning. Setting off early, we hiked towards our highest point of 4,440 meters. Unfortunately, for the first time on the trip, the altitude began affecting me badly, and I had an asthma attack. Luckily, the trek doctor was on hand, as was a horse - which the 'Across the Divide' team, (who led our group), brought with us at all times for just such occasions. I spent 40 minutes on the horse, before attempting to climb the final ascent by myself. My breathing was very bad at this stage, and we were all suffering from some form of headaches and nausea from the altitude. Eventually, though, we made it to the top. We could only stay ten minutes up there, as it is dangerous to spend too much time at that height. We hiked ten hours that day, almost an hour of which (altogether) I had to spend on my friend, the horse, as I had another attack on the descent. We camped at 3,900 meters that night, which didn't alleviate the sickness and pounding headaches brought on by the altitude. It was only the next day, when we descended to a much more liveable 2,500 meters for the next camp, that I recovered enough to enjoy the campfire night in celebration of our feat.
We hiked each day...some were easy, but a lot of them were very hard. I wouldn't change a second of it - apart from the asthma attack...and maybe I'd make it RAIN a little less! It was a challenge, but, if I might get philosophical for a moment, there is no experience in life more rewarding than facing something you thought you could never do, and doing it all the same!
Although, as my fellow office-people who have met me on the stairs can testify, I am rapidly losing what fitness I gained from the trek!! All the other benefits, though, will definitely last a lifetime.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who donated their money, time and effort to this fantastic cause throughout the year - it was a long haul, but we got there in the end!
The photo's are at www.sarahgriffin.myphotoalbum.com, and once you click inside the main album, I have divided the trip into sub-albums of days - along with a couple of straggler photo's at the bottom! Photo's can be clicked to view larger, or click 'slideshow' to see them all quickly and easily. It gives something of the impression this gorgeous country made on me!!
Also, if you ever fancy doing something similar yourself, I'd highly recommend it - it was brilliantly organised, and excellently run....besides having a great time, we got to meet indigenous people, and really get a feel for the realities of living in the Andes (well, the mildest sense of it - obviously a life so different to ours is a bit beyond our comprehension!).
Check www.concern.net for a way of taking part, and for options on other fundraising ventures.
My bottom seed, Trinidad & Tobago, will most likely live up to their name of 'bottom' seed......though I wouldn't mind visiting their little area in the Carribean. Not adverse to sunshine, and they seem like a friendly bunch of fans (certainly compared to the Iranians - yikes!!).
So, OK, I'm meant to CHEER for USA? Not a chance! If your team comes last, you get your tenner back. So I will root for them to lose every game.
Every single game.
First up for me is Trinidad & Tobago VS Sweden. The tension is killing me! Who will win? Who could possibly triumph in this battle of the Titans?!?!?Lordy lordy, who knows! Looking forward to the opening game tonight....love the World Cup! Should be some good skills on display, and a few weeks of excitement lie ahead!!
(Though I still curse that Ireland is not involved. Sickening turn of events. Sickening.)
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
With the exception of 2004's Dawn of the Dead attempt, horror remakes are uniformly awful. The director is torn between terror at ruining the original's winning formula, and laughable ego-tripping towards creating his 'own vision'. The Omen, sadly, falls between these two perilous stools. John Moore seems to be valiantly attempting to show his numerous abilities behind the megaphone, but merely serves to highlight the fact that, even with a blueprint of the movie's direction in front of him, he still cannot pull together the strings of horror.
Pivotal to the movie's terror-inducing plan is the portrayal of a child as a truly demented being. The acting in this regard sadly fails on every level – Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick failing to evoke even the mildest sense of unease from his innocent face. Mostly, he seems very much like any child, albeit a bit more given to pouting and 'evil' glares at the camera – though nothing on the malevolent level one would expect from the Antichrist. His father, Liev Schreiber, manages the closest thing to acting one sees throughout the entire movie, though he seems to have closely based his every look and emotion on Gregory Peck's winning performance.
With the appearance of Pete Postlethwaite as the most over the top, hammy priest ever seen, the movie presents its biggest challenge yet – to avoid losing complete credibility at the halfway mark. If his appearance, all swinging crucifixes and Bible slogans, does not drive most right-thinking viewing members to the foyer, then Mia Farrow's manic nanny surely will. As a Satan worshipper she protects the little boy, even to the point of murder and death. The new addition of a pseudo-sexual relationship between her and the boy is probably the most disturbing element of the movie, fleeting though that suggestion is.
The acting is uniformly wooden, and here is the crux of the movie's disappointment: However much you attempt to evoke terror with flashy camera angles and jumpy moments, if your cast cannot hold it together enough to present a believable story then the movie is destined to wallow in video hell. The abysmal Julia Stiles tops off a less-than-stellar cast as Satan's unwitting mother, constantly seeking the camera, tears pouring down her face, showing us that 'look, look – I can act – I can show EMOTION'!!
Sadly, her efforts fail, for much the same reason as the entire movie fails - we have seen all of this before, and we have seen it done far better.
Friday, May 12, 2006
My photos from the recent charity trip to Peru with Concern are on www.sarahgriffin.myphotoalbum.com, and I think that about catches up on what I've been at!
Also, film reviews are still going on at www.filmireland.net, but I've been quiet for a while, so nothing new to report!
Still in love with Alan, still can't wait to quit my job, and still in financial difficulties!!
Until next time.....