Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Now the time has come to fight"

"Now the time has come to fight" were the words of the Israeli defense minister today following the bloodiest day on the Gaza strip in over 60 years. Air strikes were launched from Israel killing over 200 and injuring hundreds more. Morgues in Gaza are said to be running out of room and hospitals in Gaza city are saying that they are running out of supplies to treat the wounded. Aid groups operating in the area fear that Israel's attacks will cause a humanitarian crisis in a place where over half of the population depend on aid to meet their daily needs.

I've held back about writing about Israel/Palestine for a little while. Not only because at the root of it all I'm torn, but also because my opinions aren't always the most popular but here it goes.

Coming from a country where Church and State are separate I may have a hard time understanding the inner workings of a religious government, on either side. But to me this is an absurd fight that doesn't need to be fought.
We, the old WW2 allies, started this fight when we decided to carve out Israel and give to the Jewish people what wasn't ours to give. There was nothing altruistic or symbolic about it, none of the allied countries wanted them living here so we sent them back to their ancestral lands. The problem with that is that there were already people living there... but we didn't care. People can argue with me about this and say it's their land, it was theirs 2000 years ago so they should have it... If that's your argument then all of us in North America need to get on boats back to Europe and give the First Nations people back their land. We took it, carved out reserves, and we keep violating the land treaties to build highways and golf courses.

The other thing is this... The people of Palestine are pretty much stuck in their assigned territories, a lot of them displaced by Jewish settlers. If someone moved into my house and said it was their ancestral right and I had to move out. I'd be pretty pissed off too and I'd probably put up a hell of a fight.

But to add to this already volatile situation there's Hamas... Which at its roots doesn't like Jews and wants to hurt them. This also, is utterly stupid and I in no way support their actions against Israel.

The bottom line is that these two religions have a lot of things on common, they are from the same region and they share many of the same values. It's beyond my scope of comprehension that one would want the other eliminated. I really hope that this isn't just a ploy to help the outgoing Israeli Prime Minister retain his job after the February elections. What makes me even more mad is that Israel just brought a tank to a knife fight and they keep doing it. The people of Palestine have nothing and they keep being pounded into the ground. This will never pave the way for peace talks, it will only increase the likelihood of bloodshed on either side.

For more please see the Globe and Mail.

Mucacho Enfermo

Desmond Tutu speaks against Mugabe

Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate and archbishop, has renewed calls for Zimbabwe's power hungry president Robert Mugabe to step down. Mr Tutu is now saying that it might be time to threaten Mugabe with forceful removal.

This, to me, is something very significant. When a Nobel Peace Prize winner says that someone should be removed by force, the world should listen. Sure, there have been sanctions against Mugabe and Zimbabwe, but sanctions against Zimbabwe only hurt the people and gives Mugabe even more of am excuse to hold on to power against an outside aggressor that wants to renew colonial values.

It's high time for the world to wake up and pay attention to Desmond Tutu's words. It's too bad, because he keeps speaking out, he keep talking to the media, addressing the west but no one listens. We can talk all we want but talk is cheap. People are hungry and people are dying, something should be done. I don't have the solutions but someone out there does and it's time to speak out.

For more on Mr Tutu's words please see the Globe and Mail.

Muchacho Enfermo

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Evil never rests...

While the rest of us are enjoying our Turkeys and exchanging gifts with loved ones on the other side of the side of the world injustice and government crackdowns still rules supreme. The Associated Press reported today that 59 Tibetans have been arrested on charges of spreading "rumors" about the Chinese occupation of Tibet and "rumors" against the communist party. Of these 59 it was reported that 5 of them are being held on charges of selling "reactionary music"... whatever that was the authorities just aren't saying.

In addition, China has accused Tibet's leader in exile the Dalai Lama of inciting these people to spread rumors and they also maintain that he was responsible for the March uprisings in Tibet, the largest anti-China protest in almost 50 years. The Buddhist monk, currently residing in India, has denied these accusation and stated that he wants what he has always wanted: a greater autonomy for his people.

I wish I had better news for everyone on Christmas day. Please keep Tibet and all oppressed peoples of the world in your hearts and minds today and think of how lucky we are here in are homes far from the fears of government reprisals.

Muchacho Enfermo

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New book on Castro... again?

Propoganda author extraordinaire Luis Baez has done it again... He's collected even more useless quotes of people around the world praising Fidel Castro in his latest book Asi Es Fidel.

My loathing for this author began last time I was in a Cuban airport waiting for my flight home. I had nothing to read and had 12cucs (convertible pesos) left. So I bought a TuCola and I bought a book from a little stand. The only 10cuc book they had was a little book called Absolved by History by Luis Baez.

As the plane took off into the sunset and I was once again leaving my adopted home I opened the book and decided to start reading. The first thing I read was an introduction about Fidel Castro called: Maestro of Generosity. It talks about Fidel's giving nature and his deep love and commitment to his people. Despite my instant surge of anger I read on. Each quote more ludicrous and out of context then the next. None of the quotes are dated, none of them properly documented, but they're mostly by great political minds such as Kevin Costner and Naomi Campbell.

Later when I came home and was finally reunited with my beloved high speed internet I did some research and found out that in his long list of pro-Castro titles was a book called dissidents. A book which talks about the 75 conviction of the 2003 of "dissidents". His book supports the regime and back up their tactics and even attempts to justify the reasons these people are still jailed.

His latest stab at journalism and authorship promises to be equally as great. It was read December 22nd at the opening of the Reading History Festival in Havana along with Che notebooks and the book 50 Songs in Time of Revolution.

Although I am loathe to say this, I can't bash him just because he's a crony and a biased author... Heck I'm a biased author and most of the people I read and support are also biased. The only thing I have going for me that he doesn't is that I do it out of my own free will and not at the behest of a dictatorship.

Muchacho Enfermo

Celebrating the Saffron Revolution

For all of you who wondered what happened to all those monks in Burma we saw on the news last year peacefully protesting against the Junta, sitting peacefully while being beaten and arrested? Here it is... the Saffron Revolution is still going on.

Ashin Mettacara, a Burmese monk, gives us a ton of insight on this on his website, please go read his article on the anniversary of these events that forever changed the face of Burma.

Let these monks and these people know they are not alone! Comment on his site, post about it on yours, worldwide solidarity will change everything!

Muchacho Enfermo

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not exactly political

This time of year we are all bombarded with adds about being charitable at Christmas and helping out our fellow man. The radio also pounds out that Paul McCartney song that makes us all feel guilty (you know the one). I thought I'd take this opportunity to write a little bit about causes that I believe in; some of them are free, some of them cost time others just cost donations but all of them make you feel good.

Locally in Montreal we have quite a few organizations that help cater to the less fortunate all year round:
There is the long established Sun Youth which we strongly supported through my old employer, they help provide everything from food banks, to rec centers to shelters for battered women.
Dans la Rue is one of my favorite charitable organizations ever, Montreal being a large urban center we attract a lot of disenfranchised youth that ends up living on the streets. Dans la Rue provides them with an education and career training center, shelter and every night they drive around the city in a few RVs distributing food, blankets, medical services and condoms to street workers. I have donated time and money to this organization and have loved every minute spent with these street kids.
Food Banks Canada is another central hub for donation and volunteering campaigns throughout the country worth checking out.

Short of having money or time to donate? Donate your time online, from your lunch hour at work to a few minutes from home... Pick a cause, any cause. If you want to get involved with Human Rights, find a blog that talks about it and start commenting, start your own website and talk about it. With blogging software it takes about 2 minutes. All of us have a need for some sort of activism or some void to fill because we feel we aren't doing enough. Well this is your chance, do something now. Even if it's just writing about it. Who knows maybe you can inspire people.

It's that time of year people, families are hungry, homeless people are cold, Zimbabwe is dying of cholera, Hoder is in jail, Cuba is still under the thumb of the Castros, the Dalai Lama is still in exile, Burmese monks are still going to jail for no reason and children are going to school without breakfast. What will you do about it?

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, irie kwanzaa!

Muchacho Enfermo

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Protest in support of "Shoe Thrower" held in Montreal and Toronto

The Canadian Press reported that yesterday protest were were held in Toronto and Montreal to show support for the shoe thrower who tried to hit outgoing President George Bush with both of his shoes.

40 or so protesters in Montreal went to the US consulate and threw shoes at black and white pictures of the president. One of the first to do this was new elected Amir Khadir who ran for the separatist party Quebec Solidaire. Protesters spoke to anyone they could find in the media and made sure to mention that this was a "humorous protest". After the shoe throwing was over the Montreal protesters walked over to the Canadian Armed Forces recruiting Center and protested something else.

In the Toronto group of protesters was an Iraqi refugee by the name Ahmed Habib who stated he hopes that Canadian journalists start throwing shoes at Stephen Harper.

Normally, I like protest and I'm really happy that as Canadians we have the right to protest. I just wish people would pick their causes a little better. Don't get me wrong I was the first to laugh when the reporter threw his shoes at Bush but holding protests in solidarity of him and trying to equate his actions towards Bush as something that should somehow be done against our Prime Minister? I don't think so, I'm pretty sure if you asked the shoe thrower himself what he though of Stephen Harper he wouldn't even know or care about who he was.

Also, I just think the manner in which this protest was conducted, especially in Montreal, exhibited a complete lack of control and is a black eye on this city.

Not to mention that if any protest should be in Canada right now it should be about having blogger and fellow Canadian Hossein Derakhshan released from jail in Iran for speaking his mind. This seems a little bit more important to me then showing your solidarity for the shoe thrower. Just my two cents.

Muchacho Enfermo

China block access to NY Times website

As of late last Friday the New York Times website has been unavailable in China and could only be accessed from a virtual private network. As we all know China has taken great pains to try to explain to the world that it has the right to censure material it deems illegal or offensive. I'm guessing the Times had reported on something China didn't like.

For more see the Globe and Mail or Reuters.

Muchacho Enfermo