Saturday, January 3, 2009

"Gaza will be paved with fire and hell"

Israel had its troops march on Gaza today as air strikes continued over the strip. Soldiers marched into Gaza one by one, following by tanks and gunboats. The death toll in in Gaza has exceeded 460 on the Palestinian side and 4 on the Israeli side. I do not condone Israel's actions. I do not believe that a rich developed country should invade a small strip of land that is fighting with metaphorical sticks and bone. Whenever I think of Israel invading Gaza is makes me think of images I'd seen of Italy invading Ethiopia where people with guns were killing people with hunting spears.

The main difference however is the hypocrisy of Hamas in all this. They're supposed to be protecting Palestinians, to provide for them... As their elected government they should have their people's best interest at heart, which they don't seem to have. When one thinks about all this it's important to remember that in their charter Hamas has refused to recognize the existence of Israel. It's also important to remember that Israel has aggressively tried to bring settlers into Gaza and the West Bank.

The rhetoric that is ongoing between the two nations is the worst, in an Associated Press article, Hamas was quoted as having said: “Gaza will not be paved with flowers for you, it will be paved with fire and hell.”
Israel has stated that it is prepared for a lengthy war.

Then near the end of the article a Hamas spokesperson said:“Anyone who thinks that the change in the Palestinian arena can be achieved through jet fighters' bombs and tanks and without dialogue is mistaken.”

Wasn't this the same group that said it would pave Gaza with fire and hell? How can anyone think that negotiating a ceasefire will be a viable option. Between Israel's fervor for war and Hamas' relentless threats, I fear that many more innocent civilians will die before any sort of temporary ceasefire is reached.

Muchacho Enfermo

Recipe for a better world

I know I've been going off-topic a lot these last few days, but this is one of those rare times where I've been inclined to do some introspection and soul-searching.

I've recently posted about getting mad at injustices worldwide and trying to find a way to make a difference on a larger scale. Today I'm going to make it even simpler and bring it down to an individual level.

When I was 12 years old I was a boyscout. Every week we had our meetings and in those meetings all of us would have to recall at least one good deed we'd performed in the previous seven days. Anything from holding the door for someone to visiting a retirement home. Again, I was 12 and I could come up with something good I did every week.

There was an old man that used to beg on a street corner near my apartment years ago in a poor neighborhood. His name was Jim. He was in his 80s and had been begging on that corner for the last 20 years. Jim lived with his daughter because he couldn't afford a place of his own. His daughter sent him out every night to beg and wouldn't let him back in the house unless he had made at least 100$. So out Jim went and stood there, sun or snow.
Everyone in the neighborhood knew him... One day something amazing started happening: a convenience store owner told Jim that instead of standing outside, he could hold the door to the store for the clients and he would give him 20$ per night on top of the change that customers would give him. A restaurant owner down the street gave him a cell phone, they told him they'd give him 20$ per night and if they needed ingredients that they would call so he would go pick them up and bring them to the restaurant. Me? I opened Jim a tab at a local coffee shop, he could have all the coffee he wanted and every Friday I'd pay it up. On his 84th birthday I went and bought a cooked chicken and a 6 pack of Pepsi and we ate it together on a bench. We didn't talk. At the end he shook my hand and thanked me. It was the last time I saw Jim because the week after I moved away.

I know it was a long story, but the moral of it is: Do something and don't expect anything in return. Someone will follow your lead and pay it forward. It all started with the convenience store owner's gesture and it trickled down to every one else.

By taking time out of your day and touching one life, you will inevitably inspire others to do the same. Hence making the world a better place.

Muchacho Enfermo

Muslims removed from plane in DC

The Associated Press reported that 9 Muslims were removed from a flight after having made suspicious comments in regards to place safety. These comments were made between Atif Irfan, a 29 year Virginia based lawyer and his sister. They were discussing the safter places to sit on the plane. Mr Irfan was going to a retreat in Florida with his wife, his 3 children, his brother, his sister in law and his friend.

“My wife and I are generally very careful about what we say when we step on the plane,” he said, adding that they have received suspicious looks in the past. “We're used to this sort of thing — but obviously not to this extent.”

The above statement is the saddest thing I have heard today. Is this what the world has come to? Giving people suspicious looks because of the color of their skin or where they were born? This kind of thing turns my stomach. What kind of values are we teaching our children?

Let me tell you, it's a sad day for the "land of the free" when people a free to be prejudiced.

Muchacho Enfermo

Friday, January 2, 2009


Normally I like to keep my blogs as short and as to the point as possible but today I'd like to get a little more personal and I'd love it if you read to the end of this post and commented.

I woke up this morning after a night of tossing and turning feeling guilty. Feeling guilty because I woke up in my warm house, my fridge with food and my espresso machine ready to grind out the finest Cuban coffee known to man. I felt guilty because I have all this, because I have two cars and three bedrooms, because I have hot water, because I have power, because if I'm hungry I just go to the store and buy whatever I want.

While I complain to my friends about the quality of programming on cable people half way across the world are being blown up, human beings are starving, people are having their opinions stifled, women are being raped, children are being turned into soldiers. My main concern today was: damn it's cold and I don't feel like walking the dogs. Compared to dodging bombs on the Gaza strip or scrounging in landfills for food it is a very insignificant concern to have.

Then after having a few coffees my feeling of guilt turns into anger.I can't feel guilty for the things I have or where I was born. The only thing I can feel guilty about is being a spectator, sitting by and doing nothing. Long ago I decided that I wasn't going to be a bystander, that I was going to do something and I have. I have gone places, sent money, been a volunteer and started this blog. I have nothing to feel guilty about.

But the anger... that is a feeling I never want to lose. The sheer outrage at the injustices of the world is my fuel and it should drive us all to act in some way. No matter if your cause is Darfur, Palestine, Cuba, Tibet, world hunger, homelessness or battered women; run with it. Do something, anything. From your anger will stem compassion and a renewed sense of purpose. Trust me, it works. Let yourselves be inspired by others, by the world, by people who are doing something concrete. Draw on their strength and make it your own.

Well... for me, this is the year. I'm not sure what 2009 will bring economically or politically to Canada or to the world. I'm even sure which direction this blog will take in 2009, the only thing I am sure of is the direction I am taking in 2009. I am bringing the fight to those who need to be fought, I am finally going to step up and do my part.

We, all of us bloggers and people of the internet, are not bound by borders or religion, color or creed, left or right, we have no borders, no government, no age or sex. We truly are a society of equals, in every sense of the word. Chuck D once said "It takes a nation of billions to hold us back"... show the world what we are made of, show thew world that we are united by our differences, show the world that we speak for the voiceless and that we are watching.

Muchacho Enfermo

Thursday, January 1, 2009

50 years later...

I could start my blogging year by talking about Gaza or about how Russia is cutting Ukraine's gas again, I could speak about the war in Afghanistan or about Hoder who is still in jail for his blog. But instead I'll I'll start the year by blogging, again, about Cuba.

Everyone from Reuters to Al Jazeera was talking about it... Even local papers here were talking about it. The Globe and Mail had a great little slide show. 50 years of Revolution. 50 years of hard times. 18,263 days of censorship. 438,312 hours of living under the same government without a free election.

I didn't get a chance to finish my year in blogs... but here's a just a few (and please feel free to add to the list) few blogs about Cuba that everyone should check out, blogger from within the island and Cuban expats write about their love and their sadness and the hardships. Zurama the other of one of these blogs suggested that Cuban bloggers should dress in black today to mourn 50 years of having no freedom... that, for all of us, should speak volumes.

Muchacho Enfermo

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New years eve reflections and wishes for the new year

I'm sitting in my kitchen sipping on a beer and reflecting back on 2008. The whole tumultuous year that has seen Canada through another election, one in Quebec, the financial meltdown, renewed violence in Gaza, the whole business with Irak, my travels throughout the Americas and Canada. Looking back on the amazing people I've met (you all know who you are, despite the fact that some of you can't even view my blog), the things I've seen and done. Looking back on all this... I'm happy. I'm happy I went where I went, I'm in some strange way glad for the meltdown that forced me into a new life. All in all, 2008 was a huge success for me and I'm sad to see it go.

For 2009, despite the fact I'm sad to see 2008 finish, I'm looking forward to 2009, if only for my friends my Cuba. One more year forward is one year closer to change. I keep this little island country in my heart everyday and everyday I knock on wood for change.

For 2009 here are my wishes:
-For my blog: I want to increase my traffic, figuring this out is tough for me but I hope I can get more people here and spark some meaningful debates.
-For Canada: I wish that our politicians grow up and step up and figure out what we need in this time of crisis.
-For Gaza: I wish that there is a compromise that will finally end decades of bloodshed.
-For Africa: I wish an end to corruption of government, for the world to finally realize that Africa needs us.
-For South America: To realize that they are all sovereign nations without the need for radical views or extremist governments (ie Bolivia, Venezuela).
-For Russia: For Putin not to pass the laws he plans on passing.
-For Hoder: Freedom from Iranian jail and for the spotlight to be brought to Human Rights in that country.
-For Burma: For the struggle for human rights come to an end. For my friend and fellow blogger Ashin Mettacara not go to prison.
-For the US: That Obama really is change for the better.
-For Cuba: I wish for Cuba freedom, all sorts of freedoms. I wish for free elections, for reforms and for freedom of thought and expression. For Yoani Sanchez to continue paving the way for other revolutionaries.
-For my fellow bloggers: I wish the strength to carry on the good fight in the face of adversity or low readership. You are all making a difference no matter how small, you change the world one person at a time. Never give up.

In conclusion that's my motto for 2009: Never give up.

Muchacho Enfermo

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Iran finally admits it is holding the Blogfather

Iran finally admitted that it was holding the Blogfather. Hossein, an Iranian-Canadian blogger, has been held since November 1st and Tehran states that he is currently in the target of a preliminary investigation by the Revolutionary Court (why are courts in countries with no justice always called Revolutionary?).

Many prominent figures, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, have been lobbying for his release. Tehran insists that the Blogfather has been spying on behalf of Israel and his case is a matter of national security.

To follow his case a little closer please see Free Hoder on Wordpress. Also as Canadians, please write to your local MP and pressure them to bring this issue to foreign affairs.

Weather you like Hoder or not, or like what he blogs about, no one should be held because of their views on government or human rights. Show your support.

Muchacho Enfermo

Monday, December 29, 2008

My year in Blogs

In a break from my normal more serious posts, I'd like to recap 2008 be talking about a few blogs that I read regularly. In no particular order, for no particular reason and with no definitive number... here they are.

Today I'll talk about a few blogs that check out that aren't political at all (for the most part) but that I've found to be entertaining and worth reading. We'll call them my "Recommended reading for Shits and Giggles" blogs.

Punk Rock HR is the first on this list. I discovered this blog entirely by mistake while googling some time wasters from the office one Wednesday morning. Laurie Ruettimann, the blog's author describes herself as a punk rock HR professional that believes you should spay and nutter your pets. She talks about everything from workplace ethics to the election. Check her out. She's worth the read.

The daily Coyote is here because everyone loves cute pictures of animals. I was touched when I heard the story of an adopted coyote that was raised as a house pet. Let's dace it he's cute as a button!

The Slumbering Lungfish is a blog by Lore Sjoberg of ... His commentaries about movies, toys, games and anything geeky have kept me entertained on a weekly basis for a very long time. Enjoy.

Muchacho Enfermo

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Conservatives want to reopen abortion debate

It was reported by the Canadian Press that a secretive parliamentary caucus wants to reopen the abortion debate in Canada. It's been over 20 years since a court ruling made it legal for women to chose the fate of a fetus. But the pro-lifers in the Conservative party are willing to present a bill that would recognize the fetus as a living person for the purpose of criminal law. In short if a pregnant woman were to be murdered her fetus would be counted as a second person.

Pro-choice activists feel that this law would reopen the entire debate about the legality of pregnancy terminations. I think they're right.

While there are valid points to be made on either side of the debate; I believe that the pro-choice arguments are stronger. Should a woman made pregnant as a result of rape be forced to be reminded of the horrific even daily? Should that child be that reminder? How fair is that to the mother and to the child? Should a woman be forced to carry a child to term if it means risking her own life? Should it be criminal to choose what you do with your body?

The best question of all though: Should the Conservative government stay the hell out of a woman's uterus? The answer to that one is YES.

Muchacho Enfermo

Gaza is on its knees

After another day of air strikes and an apparent ground invasion of the Gaza strip by Israeli forces Palestinians rushed the Egyptian border in an effort to leave the strip where the death toll is now close to 300.

The press from all over the world has covered these stories, despite the reports the world has remained mostly silent in its response to this latest Israeli assault. The UN called on both sides to halt the violence and many Arab nations have called Israel's acts criminal... but what about Canada? What about the US? What about England? Why isn't the world putting more pressure on Israel and on Palestine? How can we in the west sit idly and watch hundreds of people get slaughtered by planes on one side and buses blown up on the other and do nothing?

The better question is what could we do?
I hope someone has the answer, because Israel and Palestine certainly don't look like they have it.

Muchacho Enfermo