I once believed in the death penalty,
then I saw "The Life of David Gale."
Executions in 2008
People's Republic of China (1718+)
Saudi Arabia (102+)
United States (37)
Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
on a switch back trail.
Drinking ice cold glacier ale.
There’s a half frozen lake
at twelve thousand feet
with smooth boulders to sit on
in a cathedral of jagged peaks.
The sky falls into shape
Water rises up
to fill the space
and lap the shore
rising and falling
a level of it’s own.
In a place so simple and pure
shards of bitter memory
form on my tongue
I spit them out and think
Those are what make things taste
so complicated and unclean.
Friday, August 28, 2009
I wake up with badly congested information-channels ~ I see shifting patterns of different colors entering an open window ~ and watch the walls dissolve into orange dots before they reach the ceiling. I sit up and swing my feet over the edge of a pillowy sensation I comfortably rely on as my bed ~ but now the floor has dropped out of sight. I count the number of times this has happened and figure the odds of landing with both feet on the floor are in my favor. I decide to play it safe ~ take one step at a time ~ stopping frequently to make sure I am where I’m accustomed to be, and not where I appear to be, because I know my senses are deceiving me. Downstairs, scattered waves of light travel in every direction ~ except through the channels of my visual receptors. I find something likely to be my CD player and punch it in the vicinity of the on/off switch. A punk rock CD, left in there from the night before, starts to blare. The light waves begin bouncing to the rhythm, and, like little drops of colored water ~ they enter into the proper channels and float down streams of sensory-energy ~ until they fall into pools of stored-memory ~ and form the image of what I’m supposed to see. Like adjusting the focus of a camera lens ~ it all becomes clear. I drop to my knees and pay homage to the deities of music ~ then crank up the volume and go in the kitchen to prepare myself a thermos of coffee. Looks like it’s going to be a good day.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
As Americans search for the cure to what ails our health-care system, we've overlooked an invaluable source of ideas and solutions: the rest of the world. All the other industrialized democracies have faced problems like ours, yet they've found ways to cover everybody -- and still spend far less than we do.
I've traveled the world from Oslo to Osaka to see how other developed democracies provide health care. Instead of dismissing these models as "socialist," we could adapt their solutions to fix our problems. To do that, we first have to dispel a few myths about health care abroad:
1. It's all socialized medicine out there.
Not so. Some countries, such as Britain, New Zealand and Cuba, do provide health care in government hospitals, with the government paying the bills. Others -- for instance, Canada and Taiwan -- rely on private-sector providers, paid for by government-run insurance. But many wealthy countries -- including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland -- provide universal coverage using private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance plans.
In some ways, health care is less "socialized" overseas than in the United States. Almost all Americans sign up for government insurance (Medicare) at age 65. In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, seniors stick with private insurance plans for life. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the planet's purest examples of government-run health care.
2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines.
Generally, no. Germans can sign up for any of the nation's 200 private health insurance plans -- a broader choice than any American has. If a German doesn't like her insurance company, she can switch to another, with no increase in premium. The Swiss, too, can choose any insurance plan in the country.
In France and Japan, you don't get a choice of insurance provider; you have to use the one designated for your company or your industry. But patients can go to any doctor, any hospital, any traditional healer. There are no U.S.-style limits such as "in-network" lists of doctors or "pre-authorization" for surgery. You pick any doctor, you get treatment -- and insurance has to pay.
Canadians have their choice of providers. In Austria and Germany, if a doctor diagnoses a person as "stressed," medical insurance pays for weekends at a health spa.
As for those notorious waiting lists, some countries are indeed plagued by them. Canada makes patients wait weeks or months for nonemergency care, as a way to keep costs down. But studies by the Commonwealth Fund and others report that many nations -- Germany, Britain, Austria -- outperform the United States on measures such as waiting times for appointments and for elective surgeries.
In Japan, waiting times are so short that most patients don't bother to make an appointment. One Thursday morning in Tokyo, I called the prestigious orthopedic clinic at Keio University Hospital to schedule a consultation about my aching shoulder. "Why don't you just drop by?" the receptionist said. That same afternoon, I was in the surgeon's office. Dr. Nakamichi recommended an operation. "When could we do it?" I asked. The doctor checked his computer and said, "Tomorrow would be pretty difficult. Perhaps some day next week?"
3. Foreign health-care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies.
Much less so than here. It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise -- private-sector, for-profit health insurance -- is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care. But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.
U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for nonmedical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.
The world champion at controlling medical costs is Japan, even though its aging population is a profligate consumer of medical care. On average, the Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the U.S. rate. They have twice as many MRI scans and X-rays. Quality is high; life expectancy and recovery rates for major diseases are better than in the United States. And yet Japan spends about $3,400 per person annually on health care; the United States spends more than $7,000.
4. Cost controls stifle innovation.
False. The United States is home to groundbreaking medical research, but so are other countries with much lower cost structures. Any American who's had a hip or knee replacement is standing on French innovation. Deep-brain stimulation to treat depression is a Canadian breakthrough. Many of the wonder drugs promoted endlessly on American television, including Viagra, come from British, Swiss or Japanese labs.
Overseas, strict cost controls actually drive innovation. In the United States, an MRI scan of the neck region costs about $1,500. In Japan, the identical scan costs $98. Under the pressure of cost controls, Japanese researchers found ways to perform the same diagnostic technique for one-fifteenth the American price. (And Japanese labs still make a profit.)
5. Health insurance has to be cruel.
Not really. American health insurance companies routinely reject applicants with a "preexisting condition" -- precisely the people most likely to need the insurers' service. They employ armies of adjusters to deny claims. If a customer is hit by a truck and faces big medical bills, the insurer's "rescission department" digs through the records looking for grounds to cancel the policy, often while the victim is still in the hospital. The companies say they have to do this stuff to survive in a tough business.
Foreign health insurance companies, in contrast, must accept all applicants, and they can't cancel as long as you pay your premiums. The plans are required to pay any claim submitted by a doctor or hospital (or health spa), usually within tight time limits. The big Swiss insurer Groupe Mutuel promises to pay all claims within five days. "Our customers love it," the group's chief executive told me. The corollary is that everyone is mandated to buy insurance, to give the plans an adequate pool of rate-payers.
The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.
In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really "foreign" to America, because our crazy-quilt health-care system uses elements of all of them. For Native Americans or veterans, we're Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we're Germany: Premiums are split between workers and employers, and private insurance plans pay private doctors and hospitals. For people over 65, we're Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule. And for the tens of millions without insurance coverage, we're Burundi or Burma: In the world's poor nations, sick people pay out of pocket for medical care; those who can't pay stay sick or die.
This fragmentation is another reason that we spend more than anybody else and still leave millions without coverage. All the other developed countries have settled on one model for health-care delivery and finance; we've blended them all into a costly, confusing bureaucratic mess.
Which, in turn, punctures the most persistent myth of all: that America has "the finest health care" in the world. We don't. In terms of results, almost all advanced countries have better national health statistics than the United States does. In terms of finance, we force 700,000 Americans into bankruptcy each year because of medical bills. In France, the number of medical bankruptcies is zero. Britain: zero. Japan: zero. Germany: zero.
Given our remarkable medical assets -- the best-educated doctors and nurses, the most advanced hospitals, world-class research -- the United States could be, and should be, the best in the world. To get there, though, we have to be willing to learn some lessons about health-care administration from the other industrialized democracies.
T.R. Reid, a former Washington Post reporter, is the author of "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care."
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A model for the fabric of the mind has been tentatively settled-on. It’s one that characterizes what’s inside my head as a 3-dimensional network of delicately connected instances of prior experience and feeling. Under ordinary circumstances, incoming sensory and verbal events produce ripples that spread out over this fabric, like stones on a pond, activating network-connections until a clear mental representation is formed. However, when something goes wrong, and there’s a disturbance in the fabric, activation may become amp’d, unfettered and diffuse ..compounding insubstantial phenomena until, what may have started out as a gentle hummingbird, for example .. becomes a ferocious beast. Sometimes I think it’s only a matter of degree between clarity and delusion ..especially when I consider how many times I mistook a perfectly innocent remark as hostility.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Galileo had lived a long and very productive life before he revolutionized astronomy by turning a telescope to the sky. He learned medicine and mathematics at the University of Pisa and became an able instrument builder. He performed many experiments in the motion of bodies and convincingly toppled some of Aristotle's notions, most notably the notion that heavier objects fall faster. Galileo proved soundly that all falling objects fall at the same rate, regardless of mass.
While a professor of mathematics at Padua, Galileo heard descriptions of a recent Flemish invention, the telescope, built with two convex lenses. Galileo worked out the geometry of this arrangement and built a telescope that magnified objects by a factor of ten. After getting a pay raise for this, he designed a more powerful version and pointed it at the sky, thereby changing astronomy forever.
"The moon was seen to have mountains, craters, and sea-like dark smooth areas. The sun had blemishes, or sunspots. The planets were seen as disks! The stars remained point-like. Venus showed phases like the moon. Jupiter had four moons, the inner ones revolving faster than the outer ones."
Around 1611, Galileo ran into some trouble with the Church, which had embraced the Aristotlean cosmology. He was made to promise not to publish anything that implied that the Copernican view was real. He was careful to keep any remarks on the correctness of the Copernican sun-centered view repressed or expressed hypothetically until 1632, when, emboldened by good relations with the pope and some cardinals, he published his "Dialog on the Great World Systems" which was blatantly pro-Copernican.
In 1633, at age 70, Galileo was ordered to stand trial on suspicion of heresy. The sentence of the Inquisition was in three essential parts:
Galileo was found "vehemently suspect of heresy," namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to "abjure, curse and detest" those opinions.
He was ordered imprisoned; the sentence was later commuted to house arrest.
His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.
It took nearly 400 years but, on November 4, 1992 Pope Paul II issued a formal and public apology concerning the treatment of Galileo saying, "The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world's structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture...."
Religion should embrace science, to seek the truth is to seek god, there is nothing to be gained by replacing truth with belief.
(excerpts from astro.wsu.edu and wikipedia.org)
Monday, August 24, 2009
District 9 earned overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. On the film review website Rotten Tomatoes, it currently holds a "Certified Fresh" rating, with 89% of critics giving it a positive review, with the consensus being, "technically brilliant and emotionally wrenching, District 9 has action, imagination, and all the elements of a thoroughly entertaining science-fiction classic".
Some critics have been ecstatic about the film. Sara Vilkomerson of The New York Observer writes, "District 9 is the most exciting science fiction movie to come along in ages; definitely the most thrilling film of the summer; and quite possibly the best film I've seen all year." Christy Lemire from the Associated Press was impressed by the plot and thematic content, claiming that "District 9 has the aesthetic trappings of science fiction but it's really more of a character drama, an examination of how a man responds when he's forced to confront his identity during extraordinary circumstances." Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum described it as "...madly original, cheekily political, and altogether exciting..."
Individuals, companies and corporations have always taken advantage of warfare to make enormous economic profit. For centuries, ordinary people, who suffer most from war, have resisted these war profiteers. One of the major factors in Harry S. Truman's (Give 'em Hell, Harry!) rise to the U.S. presidency was his relentless pursuit of war profiteers.
But now the nature and power of these war profiteers have changed. Instead of racing in after the war begins, they're stepping up before a war even starts. In the last 20 years or so, these war profiteers have acquired more and more power over U.S. policy-making. Our Stop the Merchants of Death [SMoD] program uncovers the many ways these corporations are literally calling the shots when it comes to deciding what weapons systems to buy, what countries to invade, what foreign resources to seize. At the War Resisters League we say, It's not so much true anymore to say that they make profit from war. They have such power that it's more accurate to say they now make war for profit.
In 1992, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney hired a private company to answer the question: Is it economically feasible to outsource military logistics from the Department of Defense to private companies? That is, should we let private companies take care of building barracks, delivering fuel and ammunition, delivering and cooking and serving food, etc? Of course, the private company said, yes.
The private company's name was Halliburton.
In 1992, Cheney left public office and with no previous business experience at all, became the CEO of a major private company.
The private company's name was Halliburton.
For the next eight years, thousands of military logistics contracts were outsourced. One thousand of these contracts went to one private company.
The private company's name was Halliburton.
In 2000, Dick Cheney became the Vice President of the United States. A little over a year later, the United States went to war against Afghanistan. Halliburton's profits jumped.
About two years after that, the United States went to war against Iraq. Halliburton, whose former CEO was now Vice-President of the United States, got hundreds of no-bid contracts. That is, contracts for Iraq were simply given to Halliburton, with no competitive bidding at all. Half a billion dollars worth in 2003, three billion dollars in 2004, and eight billion dollars in 2005.
Halliburton's profits spiked again. And so did the value of Dick Cheney's 433,000 deferred stock options in Halliburton. We cannot help but wonder if there is a conflict of interest here. With so much personal profit at stake, can we honestly say that Dick Cheney was using his voice solely for the well-being of the United States?
The War Resisters League wants to stop all war profiteering. And we want to start by getting Halliburton out of the business of war-making. Halliburton has multi-billion dollar contracts for military logistics. Through their subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), they have a multi-billion dollar contract for Iraqi oil.
Make no mistake. Halliburton's first priority is that of most corporations, to make as much money as they can. One set of results is predictable: shoddy supplies and service, and at least a billion dollars in charges not considered acceptable by the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
The other set of results is also predictable, the Merchants of Death and its agents are going to continue to push for war because there is so much profit in it.
The ice age is melting and the Arctic is turning into water. On some days temperatures can hover around 70 degrees fahrenheit ..turning ice shelves into tropical zones. For me, this conjures up images of smooth sailing, sunbathing on sandy beaches and swimming in emerald lagoons. But I’m a fucking dreamer who needs to see things the way they are. What this really means is greater opportunity for fortune-seekers looking for trade routes to China. What is now home to Eskimos, who still hunt whales and live in igloos ..is about to become an international trade zone ..occupied by oil barons ..land developers ..and casino operators. I have the feeling we are looking at the next wild frontier. Now I picture myself sailing through the North West Passage like it was California during the gold rush ..shooting polar bears instead of buffaloes.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Everyone in the world living selflessly.
We wouldn't have to worry about whether people had enough to eat,
or whether they had a good place to sleep.
We wouldn't fight over issues with health care,
and we wouldn't be fighting wars.
You'd be taking care of the others around you,
and the others around you would be taking care of you.
Why do we fear this kind of life?
What is so distasteful about peace?
People are so blind, so ignorant.
They're so stuck in what they already know.
You must discover love!
You must discover what is right!
I'm wrong, you're wrong, we'll all wrong starting now.
Figure it out, the truth, what do you see?
Death gives no satisfaction
Because how can you enjoy anything without life?
Satisfaction should be found in the eternal.
Our humanities should not depend on money or possession,
but we should invest in each other.
Humanity should be the controller of its destiny,
rather than the victim of its fate.
Work with me people.
Despite what I've heard,
it takes more than one boy's ambition to change the entire world.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
On November 5, 1975, seven men witnessed a spacecraft from another world hovering silently between tall pines in the Apache-Sitgreaves National forest of north-eastern Arizona. One of those men, Travis Walton, became an unwilling captive of an alien race when the other men fled in fear. See what these seven men experienced in the movie based on the true story, "Fire in the Sky."
Friday, August 21, 2009
Admittedly, Pluto is a fringe dweller. It orbits at the outer-most edge of the solar system. Lately, however ..it’s been seen passing in and out of mainstream consciousness .. like the punks and the freaks we see in high school. Now, we may diss’ Pluto, and even question it’s right to exist as a planet ..but we can’t deny its presence. It’s there ..way out there ..twisted and possibly trans-gender .. but definitely there. And it’s not alone. It travels with a swarming pack of fellow Plutinos and other planetoids we still haven’t been able to identify. We know one of its peers is Neptune ..or what the early Vedic Seers called Varuna ..the goddess of the oceans. Another companion is Tau ..or what the local tribesmen call Quaoar .. a formless, genderless force that brought into existence some of the cosmic beings we know as Father Sky, Mother Earth and Grandfather Sun. I’d say Pluto lives in a pretty respectable neighborhood. I wouldn’t dismiss it as a backwater space entity any longer.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I believe in a Star Trek world
I believe that food and housing and education
would seem to be better weapons against
extremism and violence
than murder, mayhem and war
I believe that when we put profit above human life
we are feeding on our young
Open your eyes to the new galactic perspective
we are not alone in the universe
human beings are but one race among many
I believe it is time to reject our
culture of scarcity and corruption
the drive for profit alone is self destructive
The New Age of Enlightenment is upon us
and Gene Roddenberry had a perfect vision of it in Star Trek
I believe it is time to change the world......
......we are feeding on our young
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
He is currently the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Roz Savage rows near Diamond Head in Hawaii. You can see where Roz is at any time using "RozTracker." (Roz & "Junk" meet...video.)
Roz Savage is my new hero. You can visit her website if you click on this post title. Godspeed and good luck to Roz. Wish I was there.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Well, I believe I was wrong.
The world's condition can't be blamed on a few individuals.
The world's condition is solely dependent on all of humanity.
We all contribute to the world's state
Now that fact stumps me.
If the world's state depends on everyone,
well then how do we go about changing the world?
How does one boy's ambition matter at all?
Do you share my ambition?
If you don't, then mine doesn't matter.
Where did this ambition come from?
Haha, I laugh now at what I had once thought possible.
But I still won't give up.
I'm just stubborn like that.
(a response to Carlos Castaneda's A Separate Reality)
I do not wish to understand;
Only to learn.
I do not need to comprehend;
Only to experience.
I do not want to document,
But to live.
Don Juan says to live
Like a warrior.
He does not mention
“Think” or “talk;”
But only to live.
Don Genero leaped
Into impossibility -
But only if you do not See.
It was a wildly fantastic leap
Nor resilience, nor
His magic comedy
Indulgence in stupidity
Is, “I must understand,
Explain to me the ‘hows,’
A discussion must be had.”
Sorrowful tragedy of loss
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
and takes time with life.
Sturdy and steady,
Loyal and steadfast,
Armoured but vulnerable.
Finds her way in the dark
And knows intuition
leads the way.
Pirate ship sails
In moonlight and under the sun
Into the sunset
And the storms.
Demands a bountiful life
Follows the stars.
Anchor in love
Hold fast to soul
Reflect in morning coffee:
Intellectual self absorption.
Swirl and sing and sway
Unlike your own
Remember that you are
A lovely woman
And to be proud
And garb yourself with love.
Treasure Maps prove
Follow your dreams
Does not exist
Rum to imbibe
From time to time
Next day’s headache will
Tell you when
You’ve gone too far.
Listen to the playlist
Of your life
Your melody is
What holds it all together.
Stories and poems
Tell us about ourselves
Not to replace imagination;
To spark, instead.
You are the key.
Unlock your life.
(and when you get
really, really, really
scared . . .
just turn on your light)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The irrational actions and comments made by participants of Town Hall meetings throughout the nation in recent days demonstrates a profound level of ignorance regarding the actual content of the health care reform legislation that is being considered by Congress in particular and a total lack of understanding of what constitutes the philosophical basis for the political systems embodied in Fascism, Socialism and Communism in general.
On closer examination of these events, it becomes clear that this ignorance and the underlying racism that seems to propel it forward is being exploited and manipulated by those who have an economic and social agenda that is seriously challenged by the current administration. The health insurance industry is promoting and financing the alleged grassroots opposition for obvious reasons: the creation of a meaningful public option for providing access to health care for the tens of millions of Americans who either have no health insurance or who have inadequate coverage would severely impact their profits. Within such a reality, they would be forced to provide a far more humane service than is currently available.
It is quite disturbing that much of the conservative media has been filling the airwaves with hateful speech and fabricated testimonials presented as truth with the blatantly-stated intention of undermining the Obama Presidency. Unfortunately, they fail to grasp the extent of the damage they are inflicting on the social order. They may not comprehend that they could be opening a Pandora’s Box of repressed and deep-seated feelings of fear, anger and discontent. Racism is very much with us and the focus of hatred and mistrust heaped upon an African American President, who also demonstrates extreme intelligence, may prove to be a convenient scapegoat, but highly injurious to the nation’s future.
• The financial debacle that has driven so many individuals and small businesses to ruination was powered primarily by the greed and unprincipled and arrogant behavior of the manipulators of capital. In spite of the horrendous damage that their behavior has visited on the financial well-being of the nation, the prime movers of this debacle have remained essentially unscathed. The corrupt Congress helped facilitate this catastrophe in many subtle and not so subtle ways.
• The abuse of the public trust perpetrated Corporate America as exemplified by Enron – the energy company that shamelessly boasted about the extent to which they screwed over California rate payers.
• The CEOs of major corporations who fashion golden parachutes for themselves while simultaneously disregarding the conditions of the very workers who are responsible for the actual productivity of their organizations. This includes the reprehensible behavior of the CEOs of the for-profit health insurance companies who put in place business practices whose primary function is to purposefully deny as much coverage as possible to their clients who fall seriously ill. The purpose of this draconian way of doing business is to ensure good returns to their stockholders and riches beyond the imagination to those in charge (estimates are that William W McGuire of United Health Group received 1.7 billion dollars worth of compensation, a value that represents one dollar out of every 700 dollars spent on health insurance in the entire nation).
• The many substantial corporations that have taken advantage of loop holes in the Federal Tax Law that result in avoiding entirely the payment of income taxes. There is apparently a complete lack of any sense of personal and social responsibility.
• The tobacco companies who continue to produce addictive products that are known to kill those who use them. It is estimated that approximately forty thousand people die each year from pulmonary diseases caused by tobacco. It seems that life is apparently not that sacred after all, especially when juxtaposed against the prospect of making huge profits.
• The military-industrial complex that in many ways coerces the nation into choosing armed conflict as the essential means to achieve political ends.
• The many corporations whose practices have burdened the planet with an array of dangerous chemical compounds, including, of course, greenhouse gases without any regard for the resulting damage to the public health and the global environment.
• The extent to which corporate money has corrupted local, state and federal governments and significantly eroded the public trust.
Commerce permeates nearly every aspect of modern living, and the will to profit inundates us all. In the long term, this worldview will bring the peoples of this nation and, presumably, the world to grief, for it is unsustainable.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF
Powerful and Continuing
DISTAIN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
IDENTIFICATION OF ENEMIES/SCAPEGOATS
as a Unifying Cause
SUPREMACY OF THE MILITARY
RAMPANT SEXISM & RACISM
CONTROLLED MASS MEDIA
OBSESSION WITH NATIONAL SECURITY
RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT
CORPORATE POWER IS PROTECTED
LABOR POWER IS SUPPRESSED
DISTAIN FOR INTELLECTUALS & THE ARTS
OBSESSION WITH CRIME & PUNISHMENT
RAMPANT CRONYISM & CORRUPTION
Saturday, August 8, 2009
"You just have to be able to drill in very hard wood ... and keep on thinking beyond the point at which thinking begins to hurt"
“Deep, persistent problems are never solved by accident; they are solved only by people who are obsessed with them and set out to solve them directly”
"Newly acquired insights are at first only half understood by the one who begets them, and appear as complete nonsense to all others... Any new idea which does not appear very strange at the outset, does not have a chance of being a vital discovery"
"Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness" Immanuel Kant
"Nobody can have the consolations of religion or philosophy unless he has first experienced their desolations" Huxley
Friday, August 7, 2009
Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reich-Marshall at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII
we sail into the mountains of uncertainty
off to that far off deserted, silent valley
off to Shimshal, off to Simshaal
into the oceans of uncertainty
far from this irrational world full of crazy men
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf (Retired)
The recent incidents in Gojra are a grim reminder of how existing half laws can be manipulated for personal and political ends. Besides loss of life, property or the reputation of the country, it also reflects an opportunist political system in which strange bedfellows can be espoused for political expediency and where rule of law can be applied selectively. Worse, it exposes false claims of the provincial and federal governments over constant surveillance of banned militant outfits in Punjab.
The entire trail from Jhang to Gojra, Mian Channu and Shantinagar is littered with similar incidents of religiously fanned hatred spearheaded by banned militant outfits. Time and again such incidents take place with impunity and remarkable alacrity. It is to question why the local administration is caught sleeping and why no preventive measures manifest themselves in pre emptive actions.
There is no doubt that the working relationship between the Federal Government and PMLN Government is dysfunctional. It took the Government of Punjab three days to move into a belated action despite warnings given by Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs. The provincial government dismissed the factual reporting of the federal minister for over two days and moved reluctantly after all the damage had been done and Faisalabad-Karachi Railway traffic blocked for two days. The Chief Minister has repeatedly postponed his visit to the city citing security reasons. Meanwhile the frustrations continue to grow resulting in resignations of one federal and one provincial minister.
Reportedly, around 18th of July, intelligence agencies had issued a warning to the Government of Punjab of likely incidents of terrorism in which some enclaves of minority Pakistanis could be targeted. Rather than take this information seriously, the provincial government deemed it fit to act as it did, allowing free access to militant outfits for arson and murder. Perhaps they were too engrossed in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling sparing no moments for the welfare of its citizens.
The entire incident belying the fragility of our system began at a wedding party in Korrian, a Christian village 6 Kms from Gojra on 29 July. A local guest was escorted out of the celebrations for being drunk. He took revenge by leveraging the Blasphemy slogan in cahoots with some local clerics and sleepers of the banned outfits. The Federal Minister Mr. Bhatti moved into action but all his cautions fell on deaf and defiant ears in Lahore.
The Christian enclave in Gojra is located close to Awan Town named after a local property tycoon Mr. Qadeer Awan. Qadeer also runs and controls many local businesses like CNG and Petrol Pumps. He is reputed to be a very influential PMLN member and financier of the party and sleeper militants. He is known to hold the neighbouring Christian enclave in contempt with a long record of confrontation. He saw the incident at Korrian as an opportunity to settle issues and extract advantage. He is the prime suspect in the FIR, registered after 48 hours of delay. Christians allege that he with his team of sons and relatives master minded the entire operation including movement of militants from Jhang and surrounding areas.
These militants moved on public transport with automatic weapons, explosives and incendiaries with complete impunity despite many Police Check Posts en route. Rather than risk confronting heavily armed militants, the baton wielding local police chose to by stand. A nearby sizable Christian Village Chak 424 was put on hold through an expected militant attack. This was done through messages by militants, clerics and local administration. The village was never attacked but the warnings served to block reinforcements to the besieged people of Gojra. The militants were seen taking orders on cell phones as also pass on information. If all calls on cell phones from the area were to be checked during the arson, it would reveal a long trail of connections leading to militant leaders, politicians and handlers residing outside Pakistan.
But there is a positive side too. Neighbouring Muslim communities gave shelter to men, women and children, escorted them out of the area on their own transport and provided food. Some Pakistani NGOs have also established camps and MQM relief has arrived in trucks from as far away as Sindh. Pathetically, the only missing group is the Government of Punjab.
Standing next to seven caskets on the railway crossing at Gojra, I was questioning myself why seven females were burnt alive with incendiaries and why innocent people shot in the head at point blank. As I write this, two more men have succumbed to burn injuries in the local hospital. The Punjab Government made no efforts to evacuate them to a Burn Hospital in Lahore. I ask myself, did they deserve this treatment. Do Pakistani Christians who put the opportunist Unionist of Punjab to shame by aligning with Jinnah deserve this?
Local Christians allege that PMLN Government is reluctant to act because it fears losing its vote bank in the area. The incident has become a political battle ground between PMLN and PPP in which justice, rule of law and criminal accountability would ultimately be eclipsed. I remain in awe of the political system to move beyond its petty politics.
In an environment where the legal community is charged and Supreme Court taking landmark decisions, it is incumbent to take a look at half laws that provide a pretext for mob justice. The Supreme Court needs to re evaluate Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code and direct the Parliament to frame it in a manner, wherein it cannot be exploited or manipulated.
Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.
E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
He has stood by me and helped me morally and materially and I am under heavy debt of all that he did for me.
He is a sensitive man and keeps on sending me his articles and these obituaries.
My only question is that these young men have been killed because Pakistans hopeless generals and politicians decided to fight USA's war against USSR from 1954.
Why did the clown Zia decided to fight the proxy US and Saudi Afghan war for lust of US Dollars ?
Why was this region militarised.
I dont question US policy because USA is paying hard cash to Pakistans highly corrupt politicians to fight this so called war.
As I see Pakistan is the South Vietnam now and will become a big strategic liability for the world when the Islamic Extremists become more more and more powerful.Or is that the real US strategic aim to then denuclearise Pakistan.
As I see the whole US strategy is flawed.In Afghanistan and Pakistan.It is creating more problems than solving.
God knows what will become of Pakistan.The choice is between Somalia and Yugoslavia.
A country led by crooks and swindlers of the worst order surely deserves this fate ?
I will request Dr Hamid Hussain to address this question of mine.
Captain Omer Zeb Afzal
Captain Omerzeb was from 111th PMA Long Course. He was commissioned in 9 Azad Kashmir Regiment (AK).
He was deployed in Lower Dir on May 11, 2009 as part of the military operation named ‘Rah-e-Rast’ against militants.
He called his fiancée at midnight of May 20-21 and wished her a very happy birthday. In six different languages he sang to her birthday song. She said to him, “I wish you were here on my birthday. I wish I could have celebrated my birthday with you.” And he replied, “Do you want me to come over? Should I come over to Rawalpindi in the morning and we celebrate your birthday together?” She said, yes, please, please do.” Few hours later, he was killed in a blast on May 21, 2009 at the age of 24. That day was the birthday of his fiancée.
He did come over as he promised but on the shoulders of soldiers and his coffin draped in Pakistani flag. He left this world on the same day that his beloved fiancée came to this world twenty three years earlier. His fiancée kept screaming, “You guys are lying to me. He is not dead. He cannot leave me. He promised to celebrate 93 birthdays with me. This was our first. He can’t leave me on our first birthday together; he promised me 93 birthdays together.”
If I should cease to bring a Rose
Upon a festal day,
‘Twill be because beyond the Rose
I have been called away….
If I should cease to take the names
My buds commemorate,
‘Twill be because death’s finger
Claps my murmuring lip.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Rest in peace Omerzeb. Our thoughts & prayers with his family and loved ones.
(Thanks to a family member for providing this heartbreaking story of a young lad)
Captain Waqas Zameer
Captain Waqas Zameer was serving with 15 Frontier Force (FF) in Swat. He was stationed at Kanju camp with his Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). He was due for home leave but was asked to lead a search operation against militants. Waqas was commanding three APCs and infantry troops from 6th Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment. His convoy was ambushed and in a gun battle which lasted several hours, many soldiers were injured. After evacuating injured soldiers, Waqas ordered disengagement. In the meantime, another soldier was hit. Waqas jumped out of his APC, put injured soldier on his shoulders to get him inside APC when he was shot in the chest. He later died at the age of 24. He brought 15 of his injured soldiers back to safety but in the process gave the ultimate sacrifice.
When I Must Leave You
When I must leave you
For a little while;
Please do not grieve
And shed wild tears
And hug your sorrow
To you through the years.
But start out bravely
With a gallant smile;
And for my sake,
And in my name.
Live on and do
All things the same
Feed not your loneliness
On empty days.
But fill each waking hour
In useful ways.
Reach out your hand
In comfort and in cheer
And I in turn will comfort you
And hold you near;
And never, never
Be afraid to die,
For I’m waiting
For you in the sky.
Helen Steiner Rice
Click the link below for four and half minute summary of a 24 year life full of vigor of this young lad.
Rest in peace Waqas. Army & PIFFERS are proud of you. Our thoughts & prayers with the family and loved ones.
Lieutenant Muhammad Asim
Lieutenant Asim was from Mardan district of N.W.F.P. He passed out from Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in the summer of 2006 from 27th Graduate Course. He was commissioned in 36th Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment. His battalion was stationed in Shangla, Swat in Operation al-Mizan. Asim’s vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). After one week in coma, Asim died in Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Abbottabad on August 31, 2008.
Following link summarizes his short life from PMA to his final journey.
Loving Memories by Unknown
Your gentle face and smile
With sadness we recall,
You had a kindly word for each
And died beloved by all.
The voice is mute and stilled the heart
That loved us well and true,
Ah, bitter was the trial to part
From so good as you.
You are not forgotten loved one
Nor will you ever be
As long as life and memory last
We will remember thee.
We miss you now, our hearts are sore,
As time goes by we miss you more,
Your loving smile, your gentle face,
No one can fill your vacant place.
Rest in peace Asim. Our thoughts and prayers with Asim’s family and loved ones.
Captain Junaid Khan 1983-2009
Captain Junaid Khan of Special Services Group (SSG) laid down his life for his country in Swat Operation. He along with three others was on a reconnaissance mission to collect information about extremists operating in Khwazakhela area of Swat. They were captured by militants and later brutally killed. The other three who fought and died together with Junaid included Captain Najam Riaz, Naik Shahid Rasool and Lance Naik Shakeel (all from SSG). Junaid died on his birthday at the age of 26. Professor Ayaz Khan buried his only son and his life changed for ever.
‘In peace, sons bury fathers but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons’. Heroditus, Greek Historian
May God bless Junaid. Our thoughts and prayers with his family.
Captain Qamar Abbas (May 30, 1981-May 12, 2009)
Captain Qamar Abbas was commissioned in 40 Field Artillery. He was also Hafiz-e-Quran (memorized Quran by heart). Soldiers usually die on frontlines far away from their homes sometimes in strange and alien lands. Captain Qamar Abbas was born in Swat and he died in Swat fighting against extremists two weeks short of his 28th birthday.
Home, Sweet Home
Alas, I didn’t know that I’ll be coming back
Back to hamlets, villages and alleys where I was born
To fight the demons who have stolen the smiles from the faces of my compatriots.
Rest in peace Qamar. Our thoughts and prayers with the family & friends.
Major Zia-ul-Haq passed out from 95th PMA Long Course and joined 16 Baloch Regiment of Pakistan army. He was killed in action in recent operations. He passed out on May 14, 1995 and died in the same month in 2009.
Major Zia’s father died when Zia was only 18 month old. His widow mother raised him and after three decades the journey of her life came to a tragic cross road again. Major Zia’s son is six year old and daughter two and half year old. The old eyes of Zia’s mother are now looking at her daughter-in-law who has to travel on the same road lonely raising the next generation. Zia’s children have to grow up without father reliving the life of their dad.
Few have sacrificed their life
To redeem the honor;
And to pay for the sins of others.
Indeed a heavy price;
The interest is paid by even the children of those gone with the wind.
Zia; Rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers with the family.
Havaldar Qamar Ilyas & Sepoy Siddiq Akbar
Havaldar Qamar Ilyas was serving with elite Anti-Terrorist Squad and killed in action. He was from Sargodha and was married only ten days before his death. A young girl only had ten short happy days together with this young lad before he departed on a long journey.
Sepoy Siddiq Akbar was native of a small village of Babairai near Mardan. He was killed in action on May 06, 2009. He was married one year ago. One frame in his room shows two pictures; himself in uniform and his young bride in her chador. Memories of one short year will now be with this young bride for years to come.
These two wives of soldiers are from different ethnic backgrounds and live hundreds of miles away from each other but their pain is same. Tears rolling down their beautiful faces silently will be known to very few of their countrymen and life around them will go as normal but they will never again be normal.
I’ll light a candle in my window
Though I know you have gone too far;
And not coming back.
But I’ll keep that candle burning
Until we meet again in heavens.
Goodbye my beloved;
You know you are my true love.
Rest in peace Qamar & Siddiq Akbar. Our thoughts and prayers with the family and loved ones of Havaldar Qamar Ilyas & Sepoy Siddiq Akbar.
Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi (1983-2009) – Lineages of Valor
Captain Bilal was from 108th Pakistan Military Academy ( PMA) Long course. He excelled during training and held coveted position of Battalion Junior Under Officer in the academy. He was commissioned in 42 Baloch (nick named al-Havi). Later, he joined elite Special Services Group (SSG). He was part of a SSG operation code named ‘Janbaz’ to clear heights occupied by militants in Peochar valley. SSG company led by Major Sardar was given the task of clearing Swat-Peochar road. Bilal’s team was assigned the task of clearing ‘Ghazano Sar’ top. Bilal was hit by a rocket launcher and killed in action on May 17, 2009 . The height is now named after him and called ‘Bilal Top’.
Bilal sent a text message from his cellular phone the night before his death to his colleague Captain Raheel which read, “in the roars of bullets, in the thunder of bombs, there are few who just do not stop….. knowing that they are surrounded by death….. knowing that they could leave their parents and family alone….. But they just keep on moving… because in their hearts and following through their veins known as ….. HONOUR, DEVOTION, LOVE WITH MOTHERLAND, DEATH BEFORE DISGRACE, PAKISTAN ARMY ZINDABAD”.
Bilal was from a family with long history of service in armed forces dating back a century. Bilal’s great grand father Subedar Lal Khan served in First World War and won George Cross. His grand father Tajjamal Hussain retired as Colonel and his father Zafar Tajjamal Abbasi was Captain in Pakistan army. Bilal’s maternal grandfather was Major Majeed. Bilal’s brother Captain Zawar Zafar Abbasi is also serving with SSG.
My Boy Jack (1916)
Have you news of my boy Jack?'
Not this tide.
'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
'Has any one else had word of him?'
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'
None this tide;
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind -
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
and every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
Rudyard Kipling, 1916
Rest in peace Bilal. Our thoughts & prayers with Bilal’s family and loved ones.
(Captain Bilal’s family information is from Hilal, June 2009)
Captain Meraj Muhammad Khan (1985-2009)
Captain Meraj was from the village of Garo Shah of Mardan. He got his early education from cadet college Razmak. He joined 112th Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Long Course and passed out with the sword of honor. He was the first Razmian to win the sword of honor. After passing out from the academy, he was commissioned in 12th Cavalry (this is an old cavalry regiment which was formed with the amalgamation of two elite irregular cavalry regiments; 2nd Punjab Irregular Cavalry raised by Lieutenant Samuel Brown and 5th Punjab Irregular Cavalry raised by Captain Robert Fitzpatrick. 2nd became 22nd and 5th became 25th and 12th Cavalry emerged from amalgamation of 22nd and 25th. It was part of Frontier Force band of brothers. In 1937, 12th Cavalry became permanent training regiment of 2nd Indian Cavalry Group and taken out of order of battle. Pakistan brought 12th Cavalry back to the order of battle.
Meraj was a rising star of the Armored Corps but he volunteered for the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) N.W.F.P. He was part of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of FC. This is an elite unit which serves as a Rapid Reaction Force of FC. Meraj participated in many operations of SOG in Ambela Pass, Daggar and Sultanwas.
On June 04, 2009, a security convoy of police and FC was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Rustam near Mardan injuring many. SOG of FC led by Major Asad rushed to the spot and chased the militants. In the ensuing gun battle, policemen, FC personnel and army officers fought together and died together. Meraj was killed in this encounter. Others who sacrificed their lives in this encounter included Naik Ameer Hakim Chitrali, Havaldar Imran Ali Wazir and Sepoy Mehboob and Sepoy Nasrullah of FC, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Fareed Hussain Bangash, Station House Officer (SHO) Sherullah Khan , Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Hanan Khan and two police constables; Laiq Shah & Nazir Khan.
Meraj was engaged on December 06, 2008 and was due to get married in October 2009. Meraj qualified for a special operations course in U.S. and was scheduled to leave on June 12. However, just a week before he embarked on a much longer journey. In a befitting manner, five brave men of FC who died together were given final goodbye together when their flag draped coffins were lined up for funeral prayers. All were from different areas of Pukhtunkhwa (Naik Ameer from Chitral, Havaldar Imran from Waziristan and Meraj from Mardan) and in an ironic twist their lives were cut short by their own who have been possessed by the devil. However, death has brought all these men honor. FC and nation should be proud of these men and if peace comes to the haunted lands of Pushtuns and Pakistan it will be due to the blood of these men who gave up everything to secure their homeland.
Born in Mardan; died in Mardan protecting his own folk. Rest in peace Meraj along with your comrades. Our thoughts & prayers with the family.
‘We challenged Death. He threw with weighted dice.
We laughed and paid the forfeit, glad to play-
Being recompensed beyond our sacrifice
With that nor Death nor Time can take away.’
Robert Ernest Vernede
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
"Patriotism" is another word for nationalism,
"nationalism" is another word for racism...
...there is no "us and them"...
...there is only "us"...
...all racist terms...
...there is only one race...
...the human race...
(not counting the aliens)