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Filed Under: Journal - General

I'm still choking on a full article about the Olympics, which I'll probably never finish, but until then it feels like I should at least post some required viewing. Anyone who has spent any time out with me drinking, during or since the opening ceremonies of the Olympics knows that I have less than total respect for the games, or the West's passive approval of growing fascism and slave labour; that may go a ways in explaining why I'm having so much trouble trying to get a couple coherent sentences together without dissolving into a frothy mess of disconnected cursing.

At a minimum, I think it's safe to say that our standard cowardice, hypocrisy and criminal neglect for the principles we claim to hold dear is nothing short of breathtaking. But don't worry about all that, Michael Phelps broke several world records, including the most gold medals won in a single Olympics for ... swimming really, really fast. No, I mean really fast. In an enclosure of water he can get from one end of the enclosure to the other really, really fast.

I'm assuming that if he's still alive Ji Sizun will join us in our pathetic cheering as soon as the Chinese police stop torturing him.


BILL MOYERS: With a small group of media was in tow as protection, Ji went to police headquarters to file his request [for a permit to protest]. One of his friends had come here just days before to seek permission and he vanished.

Right away, Ji was treated as a suspect. For three hours, he was interrogated in a closed room. He emerged defiant and frustrated.

JI SIZUN: We had a heated discussion. They won't approve anything. They won't even accept my application.

BILL MOYERS: As Ji left, plainclothes police kept him under surveillance.

This is one of three parks in Beijing that the government set aside for demonstrations. We didn't see a banner, picket sign or protester in sight. In fact, all these days into the Olympics, the government has yet to permit a single demonstration in any of the official protest zones. Except for strollers, the park was empty, because China claims that only 77 applications were filed, and all but three were withdrawn, says the government, because the petitioners had their complaints satisfied. Those other three? "Oh", says China, "turned down on technicalities." Nothing is as it seems.

Two days later, Ji went back to the police station to ask about his missing friend. Witnesses said Ji was led by plainclothes policemen into a dark sedan, then gone...disappeared.

After the fact...

Keep Watching

2008.08.24 12:22pm
Aaron
The interview with Philip Pan is also terribly interesting, and worth checking out.

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Filed Under: Journal - General

Grey haired and disheveled and wild he tells me how he can sell me pot on the right day if I "look him up".

Ryan (presumed spelling) is jokingly "self employed" on or about the corner of Duluth and St. Laurent; and he works his corner for ten dollars to get access to the Salvation Army shelter and a hot meal. He asks if I have any spare change while I fumble with my ipod earphones trying to stuff them into my pocket. I hope the change I have there doesn't make too much of a noise while I do.

I get the impression that fully erect he would be taller than me, but instead he stands hunched a half foot below my eye-line impassionately making his pitch with a cigarette dangling precariously from his mouth. He tells me how taking marijuana in a tea will defeat the normal paranoia the the drug seats me with; the excuse I use to refuse his offers to sell some to me. He tells me how he likes to drink some tea, "throw his guts up," and then take some Valium to go to bed.

I offer another negative to his offer to deal for me as I notice a burn scar on his face. I ask as innocently as I can think of how he has ended up in a tattered jacket, unkempt beard and a seemingly good natured state of homelessness.

"LSD" he says. "I got in a car and I killed a guy. I don't even remember it." He continues, "I've been guilt tripping ever since."

I stupidly tell him that he's not doing himself, or anyone else any good at the moment with the intent to suggest he move on. I instantly regret it. He doesn't seem to take it as an insult any more than I meant it to be one, though it was.

Curious about the US recession, the effects of which on the Canadian economy I haven't followed, I ask how "business" has been going.

"I was asking down there [Avenue des Pine and St. Laurent] and a guy took out a ten so I could stay at a shelter; some other guy just walked by and took it saying 'thanks' and walked off."

His English is smooth and clean, and he seems like someone I could hold a conversation in with.

I ask him if things are going worse for him lately and he stops for a second to think. "Yes, I think so." Then launches into another pitch about how he could use a meal from the shelter.

Ryan. He works St. Laurent near Duluth with a dirty face, wild hair and clever eyes. Ryan, a hunched man my dad's age killed a guy, and has been guilt tripping ever since.

I hope he spends the money on food and not beer. I hope he can find the other end of that "guy he killed" somewhere other then the bottom of a pint, or in the bottom of a toilet after a cup of a doped tea.

I think I'll order in; after all, it has been a rough night.

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Filed Under: Journal - General

The Fifth Estate brings us The Lies that Led to War, a CBC documentary which covers the lead up, and selling of the war. Originally aired March 7th 2007, this film pulls no punches while they look more deeply into the horrific acts of Saddam at Halabja in 1988, the source of Bush's mantra: he gassed his own people. Thankfully they add the important, but missing, appendage "... with our [USA] help".

After this refresher on the beginning of the mess in Iraq, take a look at Frontline's analysis of the 'Surge' and the decisions which led to its implementation: Endgame. In the eyes of many non-partisan officials the Surge is the last best hope for any kind of victory in, or even a graceful withdrawal from Iraq.

If you really feel like a depressing hundred hours or so, Frontline has a full listing of all of its films covering the War on Terror. That page is a treasure-trove of fantastic resources to learn more about the family of military conflicts which will speak to history books about our morality, civility and in many ways, our sanity.

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June 5th 1989. In the mist of a gloomy morning true heroism was captured on film and has become an indelible symbol of courage and the purity of the human spirit that we should never allow ourselves to forget.

My wonderful girlfriend, Ayria got me a poster of the event which hangs on my wall, and that I look at every day, but that I rarely process for the act of pure strength of will it represents. In an environment more hostile that any of us can possibly understand a single man stood against the ultimate symbol of oppression and the weaker of us could only watch and hold our collective breath. Civilization faintly hoped that a country prison might change.

The Tank Man is a symbol of what we should all try to be in the face of terror and oppression, but he wasn't alone in his courage. Tiananmen Square, Beijing, and indeed more than 400 Chinese cities had become a seething mass of protest. Humanity en masse crystallized into an act of pure hope which was met by a military which was at times paralyzed by its own contemplation of what it is to be human, and at times succumbed to all the worst darkness of the human soul.

Thousands flooded the streets standing up for everything that is right about civilization and the evolution of society, only to be crushed under the wheels of dictatorship. Crushed, but not forgotten.

Please take 90 minutes of your life to learn more about the massacre at Tiananmen Square. It's one of the largest symbols of victory and defeat that we will ever encounter in our lives, and it should speak to us about how we lead our lives. Speak to us every day.

China is a dichotomy of progress and regression, and should enter our minds in the same thought as Darfur, globalization, appeasement and Taiwan.

China; 1,313,973,713 people and counting. One billion, three hundred thirteen million, nine hundred seventy-three thousand, seven hundred and thirteen people... one billion, three hundred thirteen million, nine hundred seventy-three thousand, seven hundred and thirteen of us... in need of democracy.

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Filed Under: Journal - General

All I can say is that I hope you were right and there's a Hell, Jerry.

Also, make sure to catch BoingBoing's listing of Famous Falwell quotes.

After the fact...

FAREWELL FALWELL

2007.05.18 04:18am
Aaron

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Journal - General

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