It’s been fun… December 10, 2006Posted by earthlingconcerned in Uncategorized.
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To all of my readers (if there are any left),
I haven’t updated this site in over a month now and have subsequently concluded that I’ve written my last article as earthlingconcerned. Thanks to some luck, and much persistance, there have been over 85,000 page views to this site.
Thanks for all of your interst and support! Granted, a lot of the traffic came in brief periods (thanks to fark, metafilter, netscape and a few other link sites out there). It was fun while it lasted. I’m still very interested in writing and most everything I’ve written here is still very close to my heart, but my day job has made it a lot tougher for me to keep updating this blog regularily.
So instead, if you care, I’ll be a contributing writer to the Canadian stories site called MyCitySpace.
Check it out if you’re interested. I’ll be contributing under the name of ‘Andre’, as that is my name.
How much is Abuse Worth to You? November 2, 2006Posted by earthlingconcerned in Uncategorized.
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There is and should always be little reason to doubt that abuse of any kind is a bad thing. Whether it’s physical, sexual or substance abuse, it should be avoided at all costs. I am thankful that my life has been relatively free from all of the above. But this entry is about something that I was recently made part of. Something that made me think about scale, of social standings and the general disorder of things. Here is my story.
I was waiting for the same street car that always takes me to work, listening to the same music, breathing the same air, when someone new came my way. It was a lady, unkempt and tired looking. My first instinct was to believe that she was homeless and would subsequently ask me for money. She did. Her voice was shaky and on the verge of tears when she did, “My boyfriend just beat me, do you have any money so I can get on the GO train to get home?” I looked at her as she pointed to her partially swollen eye. I noticed scratches on her hands and realized I couldn’t simply ignore this call for help. So I quickly thought about what I had in my pocket. I had $33.00 in my wallet. This was enough money for her to get anywhere she wanted and then some. I looked down the street for my own street car, as if an answer lay therein, before reaching into my pockets. “I can give you $3.00,” I said this and gave her the money before continuing, “you should tell the police about this.” She replied, “I’m too scared that he’ll hit me again, thank you.” Then walked away from whence she came.
So what made this strangers suffering worth $3.00 to me? I’m not quite sure I can answer the question completely but I know I had to have some money for lunch, I knew I had to have some money for more TTC tokens, but most of all, I just wasn’t sure who she was. In the same way that I often hesitate to give money to those on the streets because of a social order imprinted into my psyche that there’s a chance the money will be used for drugs, or alcohol, or any number of other vices that keep the cycle of neglect going. But shouldn’t this have been different? There were physical and emotional signs of abuse found in her appeal. $3.00 was about half of what she needed for the ticket home if she was being honest. I am part of the world and the world is a part of me. I have a fairly good understanding of the suffering that takes place on this planet on a daily basis but know that if I become to preoccupied with it, it will tear me apart. The horrible nature of my own self is this, I have to remain ignorant of many of these things. I can’t save the world with the wave of my wand in the same way that Rome wasn’t built in a day. So there I was, on my way to work, doing my own thing, when I was confronted with a potential victim of physical abuse and I responded. Why $3.00? Subconsciously, I must have known that when I stepped foot on that street car, I would never have to see her again.
The First American Treason in over 50 years? October 11, 2006Posted by earthlingconcerned in Treason.
Adam Gadahn, the 28 year old Californian man affiliated with Al-Quada, was officially accused of treason today. I don’t see a reason to doubt this accusation considering his involvement in the foiled plot to disturb the last US election, and keeping in mind that he’s become the English speaking spokesperson for the terrorist group. He is believed to have said, “Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, God willing. At this time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion“ in a video broadcast on the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Since then, he’s appeaed unmasked in several other videos condemning the American administration in support of Al-Quada. So does this fall into the category of treason as defined by the States?
Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Adam Gadahn seems to fit these specifications. Levying war? He has most definitely threatened the country with further terrorist attacks, and that could be seen as an announcement of war. If North Korea can suggest that further sanctions would be considered as an act of war, his threats definitely fall into the category. Adhering to their enemies? Considering his most recent video came just over a month ago, and Al-Quada is sworn enemy, I would say he fits snugly into what the constitution sees as an act of treason. What about two witnesses? I saw it, click here and find a video and you can become a witness yourself. Check. What makes this a big deal is that this is the first time an American has been accused of treason since 1952!
That time, it was American born Tomoya Kawakita who was charged and eventually convicted of treason because of torture committed against American prisoners of war during World War II. Go through the treason check list yourself and I guarantee you that this would constitute treason. I don’t have as convenient proof regarding the two witnesses but I have little doubt that is in much dispute. Issues of dual nationality, renouncement of U.S. citizenship and such came into play but they mattered little. He was sentence to life in prison in 1953 (and eventually pardoned and deported to Japan during the closing of Alcatraz). The thing that surprises me the most is the scale of time in between one accusation of treason to the other.
Since 1952, a lot of American history has occurred. There was the Korean War, Vietnam, Cold War, smaller skirmishes in Grenada, twice in Iraq. The list goes on. Then there’s the question of why Adam Gadahn and not someone else like John Walker Lindh, who is currently serving a life sentence for supporting terrorist organizations, or Yaser Esam Hamdi who was accused for similar reasons. There have been similar cases of anti-American Americans out in the last 50 years.
Why now? Why him? Discuss.
The Passing of the Torch: Selection of the UN Secretary-General October 10, 2006Posted by earthlingconcerned in United Nations.
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Mere hours after the first nuclear arms test in North Korea; the United Nations nominated their next secretary general in Ban Ki-moon of South Korea. After reading up on his accomplishments and the respect he has garnered internationally, it appears to be a smart choice. The timing of his nomination could have been looked at as rather suspicious (considering his history as a south Korean diplomat and recent North Korean news) but it was indeed planned for quite some time. All other reasonable candidates for the position had dropped out and for all intents and purposes, he should be a worthy successor to Kofi Annan. Shortly after his nomination was made official, he had these words to say, “This should be a moment of joy. But instead, I stand here with a very heavy heart. Despite the concerted warning from the international community, North Korea has gone ahead with a nuclear test.” Those may quite possibly be words that define his legacy as he has vowed to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis once he becomes secretary-general. Hopefully, his influence and experience in the region will do just that. Kofi Annan, whose second term expires in January, had his own goals early on when he became secretary-general.
Kofi Annan made great efforts to trim down the UN expenditures and save face after some massive failures throughout the 90s. But his legacy was supposed to be one of a more humanitarian nature. It was abundantly clear that the world was facing a crisis in regards to the needs of survival and the resources available to guarantee it. Annan seemed to have a vision. Quoting from Paul Kennedy’s, “The Parliament of Man”:
Annan seemed to be increasingly successful in steering attention to Africa, the continent facing the greatest concatenation of challenges, and in getting public opinion to recognize that efforts to help African societies must involve not only substantial resources, but above all cleverly shared work by all parts of the UN as well as by the NGOs, the churches, and international business. In this large, holistic view of things, the Security Council is but one of the actors—a vital one, to be sure, for every community needs its nightwatchmen and policemen—but much else is also needed to make the world community content and prosperous.
In a post Cold-war world, he had hoped to be able to let cooler heads prevail, and worry about the oft forgotten humanitarian goals of the United Nation. But it was soon shown that Cold-war or not, the forgotten continent of Africa would always be overshadowed by those with the wealth. At the dawn of the 21st century there remained problems that never seemed to go away. From the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, India and Pakistan’s perpetual quarrel over Kashmir, to Saddam Hussein and all of the fresh eruptions of violence in Congo and Sierra Leone, he had a mountain to climb just to bring world-wide attention to his humanitarian goals. However, calling for action against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in 2001, and proposing the Global AIDS and Health Fund, he seemed to be making progress in his ambitions.
And then, September 11th arrived.
From that point on, the focus on the humanitarian goals of the United Nation were once again overshadowed when a new war on terrorism was waged by the only remaining super power. Africa continued to be an afterthought by those with the ability to help make a difference. Martin Meredith takes the words of a Nigerian academic in his epic book, The Fate of Africa, by saying “the problem is not so much that development has failed, as it was never really on the agenda in the first place.” He then closes with the following:
After decades of mismanagement and corruption, most African states have become hollowed out. They are no longer instruments capable of serving the public good. Indeed, far from being able to provide aid and protection to their citizens, African governments and the vampire-like politicians who run them are regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival.
And that is where we stand today. Kofi Annan’s legacy was displaced by the realities of the modern world. The North Korean tests may pave the way for a different legacy for the new secretary-general. However, this passing of the torch may extinguish whatever hope there was left for a dying continent.
Sitting alone, the fire.