Archive for January 2010

Belafonte and Glover

January 29, 2010

Harry  Belafonte has not been dead and gone, nor has Danny Glover.

These strange moral men, so out of place in the land of entertainer  ego have dared to challenge the “official story” of American exceptionalism and greatness.

On Jan 28 these two American artists joined many others in the continual shocking imperiasl hubris of UNCLE SAM in Haiti.

The justified criticism has been levelled by several credible groups like Doctors without Borders. A team of volunteer surgeons including the incoming president of the New York State Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, whose deployment was delayed for days by the U.S. military, reported that  “untold numbers are dying of untreated, preventable infections.”Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration.

We lost three days,” Francoise Saulnier, the head of MSF’s legal department told Reuters Television in an interview. “And these three days have created a massive problem with infection, with gangrene, with amputations that are needed now, while we could have really spared this to those people.”

Acting like a global goon squad the US poired marines into this broken country—to secure it, lock it down instead of immediately feeding and housing the wounded.

The last throes of empire.

It first turned its back on Aristide, then recently on Honduras. Now Haiti must be kept in line.

Hats off to citizens Glover and Belafonte.

Harper big on Haiti LOL

January 25, 2010

It is to laugh to see the Harperites go big on Haiti hoping like hell it would do wonders to their shrinking poll numbers because of his PROROGUE.

Marginally better than he was on Arab Canadians stuck in Lebanon a few years ago, the guy has little interest in foreign aid or any institutional generosity.Next to the USA we are the chintziest people of any major industrial nation, giving the poor a measly 0.26 of 1% of GDP. The USA is around .10%. They give one quarter of their aid to good old Israel, a developed country. The Norwegians pony up  0.87 and Denmark 0.84 .

But oh do we have money for war now that Harper is on the job

Religion and Haiti

January 20, 2010

Some thoughts on  religion in Haiti.

A people under oppression often resort to apocalyptic bizarre religion.

People running through the streets after the earthquake: Jesus is coming. The first signs of the return. Book of Revelations stuff, totally misunderstood.

Then we have those tossing their bibles into fires. There is no God. People unable to distinguish a natural disaster from God. “He must be angry”, “He is telling us sometthing”. Not really. He is telling you to use your coconuts and built better infrastructure which can withstand tremors—and some of this engineering may not do it.

Then religious wackos like Robertson. Haiti made a pact with the devil years ago. No we see what has happened.And he ran fir Prez of the USA—but so was Bush who told us God told him to invade Iraq. Not the God of Jesus.

Then the goofy voodoo boys. Did you notice all the Catholic churches were flattened. So what. It’s a Catholic country!

And so on.

The most authentic religion was that of Aristide, the liberationist priest who linked God as an anti-oppressor. People were not made to bake bricks for pharaoh. Organize and demand the rights you posses as a child of God.

He got about 85% of the vote only to be ushered out by Uncle Sam for upsetting the colonial.client relationship.

Then there is the authentic faith of the people who band together after a stunning natural tragedy.

Haiti—an American failed state

January 16, 2010

The Wall Street Journal celebrates the fact that the US military will play the leading role in Washington’s response to the earthquake as “a fresh reminder that the reach of America’s power coincides with the reach of its goodness.”

More USA mythmaking at its worst.

No historical analysis of Haiti’s tragedy of being so close to the USA and unlike Cuba unable to withstand American subversion of another way of strtucturing an economy.

In a way Haiti has never been forgiven for becoming an independent nation  and thumbing its nose at imperial dominators. Look up Tousaint L’Ouverture.

In the 20th century, Haiti was occupied by the USA 3 times and repressed. The “Man” there was the cruel bastard Papa Doc Duvalier (1957), an American puppet.He and his goons the Tonton Macoutes murdered at least 40,000.His puffy-faced idiotic son took over and in this region of terible poverty, hid millions in Swiss banks before the great uprisings of 1986 forced him and another American-backed puppet the Philipines Ferdinand Marcos to leave.  There was to be no revolution against poverty in the Caribbean. Castro proved otherwise.

Haiti was subdued twice in the last 20 years. Aristide won 80% of the vote but the democracy loving nation of Uncle Sam  said that would not do.The liberationist priest Aristide like his master, Jesus had the audacity to put the poor at the heart of his mandate. Out you go—with the blessing of Paul Martin, one of his worst (and largely hidden) moves.

Now the disaster hits and the myth of American benevolence kicks in.

That s not to say that Obama did not do the right thing.

But the USA  has consistently done in Haiti making it safe for groups like Disney to pay workers .30 per hour for their piece work.

Unmitigated gall

January 15, 2010

So The Obama administration is floating the idea of a financial tax just as institutions such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are set to pay out record bonuses. And these shameless blanks do mean record bonuses.

Not for them to give a damn about 15% unemployment with huge mortgages coming due in the near future.

The back of the hand to you , sir is their arrogant and incomprehensible (to most) attitudes.

One Canadian watcher did get it right.

“Given the depth of the recession, to announce or approve these bonuses in the current climate is an act of strategic and political stupidity,” said Ian Lee, the director of MBA program at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business and a former banker. “They put a target on their heads and said ‘Shoot me.’”d tell us what it really is.”

The British government capitalizing on the people’s disgust laid a  50 per cent tax on bank employee bonuses of more than 25,000 pounds. We’ll leave , say these creeps.

In the latest Mother Jones, Joseph Stiglitz, the former head of the IMF called into question the morality of these people who allowed the Market to overwhelm everything in their world. And believe it, these fundamentalists included a whack of Catholics who prayed to Jesus but gave their heart to Moloch.They graduated in droves from Notre Dame and St Michael’s College in Canada. Stiglitz states:

We have created a society in which materialism overwhelms moral commitment, in which the rapid growth that we have achieved is not sustainable environmentally or socially, in which we do not act together to address our common needs. Market fundamentalism has eroded any sense of community and has led to rampant exploitation of unwary and unprotected individuals. There has been an erosion of trust-and not just in our financial institutions. It is not too late to close these fissures.

But as usual Chris Hedges says it better:

Corporations, which control the levers of power in government and finance, promote and empower the psychologically maimed. Those who lack the capacity for empathy and who embrace the goals of the corporation-personal power and wealth-as the highest good succeed. Those who possess moral autonomy and individuality do not. And these corporate heads, isolated from the mass of Americans by insular corporate structures and vast personal fortunes, are no more attuned to the misery, rage and pain they cause than were the courtiers and perfumed fops who populated Versailles on the eve of the French Revolution. They play their games of high finance as if the rest of us do not exist. And it is a game that will kill us.

Americans we love em but they must grow out of their distrust of the state and veneration of business. Even with the catastrophe created by corporate whores ordinary people even fear government more than business . Massive brainwashing under “free market” capitalism.

NO WAY JOSE-Escriva rejected

January 12, 2010

Opus Dei founder Jose Escriva was formally made  a saint in 2002.  His huge moneyed backers catapulted  him into the holy pantheon. On July 6, 1991, Pope John Paul II promulgated a decree approving the necessary miraculous cure, and beatified Escrivá on May 17, 1992, before around 300,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. A  new ultramontane hero in JP ll’s church—way ahead of John 23 and Oscar Romero stil languishing on the sidelines.

To much of the Catholic world, this shocking act, the saint- making of a reactonary churchman  who courted the rich and rejected Vatican ll was the last straw. Saint making had reached farcical levels.

In that sad year of 1992  the TSJ players rented a flat bed truck and parked it in front of Toronto’s Catholic cathedral and performed their street thetare called NO WAY JOSE.

People gathered round, genuinely interested in the performance—until they realized that Josemaria  had failed the heavenly test and was actually rejected by the actors.

Not funny declared some people. How dare you.

We dared. Not much laughter any more in the Roman Church.

“Living easy is dangerous”-Nietzsche

January 9, 2010

CRAIC the well known think tank in Toronto’s least end posed the question: What happened to the extraordinary societal  effervescence in the last 30 years.

Many thoughtful answers were forthcoming.

Television—no, it only pulled the Americans off the activist street. They became passive and today, they seem to be eating feces with a spoon while the banks get bailed out and Wall St saved. These couch potatoes are more interested in Survivor shows, sports and other ephemera. They are in a dream world.

Corporate dominance of the whole culture overwhelmed people, made them feel small and inconsequential. The boomers became contented with their good fortune and nestled by the fire. In the end they were co-opted and became part of the problem.

Longhead pointed to the subversion of the prophetic principle among Catholics and Jews. They became part of the establishment, voting Conservative and Israel.

The discussion continues.

Secular parables

January 6, 2010

The parables of Jesus are rug pulling nuggets, the equivalent of intellectual pratfalls which suddenly illuminate and give us another angle, another way of seeing. In some ways you might call them Palestinian humour.

We need some today particularly in the Roman Church as it flails away in the gap between the clerical world that is dying and the newer, more dEmocartic church needed to serve humankind.

In the broader culture there have always been wags, comics, pranksters which serve the purpose of Shakepeare’s fool—wisdom coming from another location.

For example Adbusters Magazine has promoted culture jamming, subverting those pompous lifestyle ads of corporate advertising we see everywhere, those awful deadly serious hymns to consumption. It’s like drawing a moustache on a model in a billboard or tweaking texts. Teahers should be doing this regularly  in media studies classes and yes, religion classes.. Jam the toxic culture by all means.

In the USA mid the shocking 20 years of consumer madness and wretched excess under Reagan/Bush there were some delightful send ups.My favourite was Billionaires for Bush who described themselves as “ a grasswork network of corporate lobbyists,decadent heiresses. Haliburton CEOs( Cheney) and other winners under George Busg’s policies.”  They actually had 60 chapters across the US. They would show up in pin stripes, conservatively dressed in dark suits  and take over press conferences with their antics . Signs like “4 more years of putting profits over people” and chanting at Bush rallies, “Four more wars”. Another fave was “Inequality isn’t growing fast enough.”

People loved it.

Now with the economic downturn caused by Wall Street, these secular jeers should be but a prelude for massive demonstrations.

Happy New Year! It’s 1910

January 4, 2010

The latest Harris poll in the USA released last week reveals that despite efforts in the past year to educate the public about evolution, Americans have not changed their views much since Harris’ 2007 poll. Forty-five percent of respondents indicated that they believe in evolution, 33 percent indicated that they don’t believe in it, and 22 percent said they weren’t sure. Meanwhile, 40 percent said they believe in creationism, 30 percent indicated that they don’t, and 30 percent said they were not sure.

So the year of Darwin and all of its attendant publicity proved that the New Year’s day these people celebrated was 1910 not 2010.

These are the same people, most one would presume, solid humans who are sketpical of global warming as well.

Maybe they might be one of those who purchased Sarah Palin’s million seller.

What can you make of this?

The major reason for this appalling dumbing down would be the Disneyfication of American culture and the corrosion of serious thinking.

Torontonians in Gaza

January 1, 2010

Don and Carol

Fifty-seven Canadians were among those who gathered in downtown Cairo waving colourful flags amid chants of “freedom for Gaza.” Among them grandparents Don Schmidt and wife Carol Trainor and Catholic teacher David Szollosy.

All of them had travelled to the region to participate in the march. They said they were warned by the Canadian Embassy in Cairo that the Canadian government would not provide assistance to marchers who faced prosecution or arrest.

Police in Cairo attempted to stop the protesters by barricading a hotel where they were believed to be staying, but most activists made it onto the streets before being marshalled into a public square near the Cairo Museum.

“I was yanked from the person whose arm I was linked to, dragged and pushed to the curb and then thrown upon a pile of other marchers, some of whom were visibly hurt,” said Canadian protester Wendy Goldsmith.

“They were screaming for us to ‘get up’ while pulling at us.”

The protesters later regrouped and began chanting and singing despite the heavy police presence.

The penned-in Cairo protesters held their ground until dusk when a decision was made to disperse.

“(We) showed Gaza that even though we are not with them in body today, we are with them in spirit,” Ms. Goldsmith said.

The Gaza freedom march was planned to call attention to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza on the one-year anniversary of Israel’s three-week war on the territory.

Thirteen Israelis and almost 1,400 Gazans were killed in the conflict which Israel launched to stop years of militant rocket fire on its southern towns.

Israel and Egypt imposed a strict blockade on Gaza after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

The blockade has increased poverty in Gaza and prevented it from rebuilding after last winter’s war.