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Archive for December 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated: another US foreign policy triumph.

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My blood runs cold at the news that Benazir Bhutto has just been murdered in Pakistan. The first (only?) female leader of an Islamic nation, Prime Minister for the first time at just age 35. Bhutto, Chernobyl, the Challenger disaster, and Ethiopian famine are cornerstones of childhood memory, looking out and becoming curious about the world. Like the death of Indira Ghandi, Bhutto will now loom larger than life. But unlike Indira Ghandi, there is a feeling nearing certainty that Bhutto’s best years were still ahead of her.

Just today, I had read this astonishing piece by Ahmad Faruqui – a journalist in Pakistan. Writing that President Pervez Musharraf should be declared Comedian of the Year, his piece was banned by the Daily Times, supposedly one of Pakistan’s freer papers. So he leaked it. Can you even leak your own work?

Maybe he felt the police would pick up him up because he was openly expressing his opinions on TV, which was contrary to his own diktats.

But wait. Maybe the suffering was moral. As he went to bed every night, he lay awake thinking of the people that he had put in jail that were lying awake in rotten surroundings. To relieve his suffering, all he had to do was release them.

But did he? Of course not! He had declared an emergency precisely to make them suffer. How dare they rise against him on the streets, agitate against military rule and file petitions in the Supreme Court. He was going to fix them once and for all.

New York Times has the story here, with a more insightful look at her struggle here. Reuters has a three-page report seemingly gathered from the scene here. There are two conflicting reports – in one, she was shot in the neck and chest by a killer who then detonated a device next to her vehicle thereby causing close to 20 more deaths. In the other version, she was killed by the blast without any shots first being fired into her body.

The UK’s Guardian has a brief timeline of some of the significant moments in her life cut short here. Reuters has a similarly useful timeline of significant political developments in Pakistan here.

Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post has already responded – not to proclaim the tragedy of her passing but to point out the strategic imperatives of the moment:

The first issue is Pakistan’s nuclear potential; although this is the most pressing issue, it is probably the least worrying as the military is in control of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. The second issue is the strength of the radical Islamists, and finally the question of elections and democratisation in Pakistan.

Ironic that nuclear-armed fundamentalists and extremists are worried by nuclear states and radical fundamentalists, proclaiming as much before the final blasts of shrapnel have even hit the ground. Fuck you, murderous thieving right-wing Israeli hypocrites.

Conversely, India- a country all too familiar with the brutal slaying of compassionate leaders – has already voiced empathy and support. Writing at Times Online, Zahad Hussain reports that

moments before Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today, she poignantly spoke of how her father was executed, and of the deaths of other members of her family. Now she too has become a victim.

No doubt those final words shall be reprinted shortly, surely magnifying the significant timing of Bhutto’s death, and surely adding to a near-incendiary situation in Pakistan. The BBC has posted a highly fitting, though very British, look at her life in pictures.

Once again, globally, all bets are off.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 28, 2007 at 2:33 am

Merry Christ mess.

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So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

Another year o-ver, a noo one jus’ begu-u-un.

Nice work Band Aid. Let’s just ignore the crucified elephant in the room. Baby Jesus. Christians are about to perform a global Mexican Wave of celebration in the name of unlikely child birth – and that’s cool. But spare a thought for the Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, Godless Cocksucking Republicans, and French President Monsieur Blahlahblah Sarkozy, aka Godless Shiteating French Piss Monkey. It’s at this time of year that they/we/I realize that I/we/they just don’t have a creation myth that stands up to the one dictated from Vatican City.

So powerful is this creation myth that even though Pope Benedict Whateverth is clearly the evil emperor from Star Wars, he is still believed by over a billion people to be the left hand of God on Earth. Obviously, God’s right hand has no idea what his/her left hand is doing. That’s understandable. If you’re meant to simultaneously exist at all points of the known and unknown universe, your hands are likely quite far apart. Distance between good movies featuring Ben Affleck far apart. And then some.

Any organisation that is against birth control and in favour of human domination of the planet as some kind of divine right, all things given, really should be getting scratched CDs and used undies from Santa this Xmas is all I’m saying. And what’s with “Xmas”? Total commercialisation somehow hasn’t taken the Christ sufficiently out of the concept, so somebody decided to take the Christ out of the whole word?

Personally, I agree with many people who think that Jesus was an amazing tuned in cat whose words and actions have been censored, twisted, and exploited in an agenda-driven manner that is in no small part responsible for the suffering and death of hundreds of millions of people throughout the ages.

Funny how some people who can believe in virgin birth and life after death have such a problem accepting the basics of photosynthesis; the deaths and suffering of the Inquisition and the Crusades will likely pale into insignificance beside the upheaval and misery directly attributable to global warming within the next century. Where’s the church on this? Down the back, competing with governments and corporations to be the last to speak or, more importantly, act decisively.

The story of Eden is in so many ways a parable for our daily lives, but for this: we have eaten the apple of knowledge and rather than being evicted from the garden we have stayed behind to fill it with oil-poison, toxic-filth, genetic modification, ebola and napalm.

Of course some think that the snake, the serpent, a creature which feeds on the sun and moves on the earth, is a symbol of nature. And that nature, therefore, must be treated as evil. Which might explain a lot –  not just of what has happened, but what is happening and what is to come.

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 25, 2007 at 12:01 am

MELTDOWN: Yankee Subprime, Tassie Pulp = Merry Xmas!

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This piece has just arrived from a Tasmanian hee-roe by the name of Bob McMahon. He’s one of the many heavy lifters active in the fight against Gunns proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, and although he can flippantly fire of the term ‘civil war’ when his blood’s up, i think it’s only because he means it. Check out more of his work at A Better Australia.

“As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  Thus spoke King Solomon (Proverbs 25.25). His wisdom resounds down the ages and brings good cheer to the Tamar Valley in this Christmas week of 2007.

Where is this ‘far country’ and what is the ‘good news’?

The far country is America. The beginning of the good news, the incipiently good news you might say, occurred a few months ago. That was the start of a ‘credit squeeze’ in America due to the subprime mortgage crisis. Loan defaults in the housing market, in particular the 3.5 million ‘homeowners’ who were sold loans they had no chance of repaying over the long term, or even the short term, sparked the squeeze.

No problem for us in Australia, the local economists assured us, because we did not go in for subprime type lending, that is, reckless lending to mortgagees (or companies?) with insufficient assets or cash flow to make loan repayments. We have been altogether more circumspect in Australia. We were immune from that sort of thing we were told. No mention of companies like Centro with assets and exposure in the USA.

Several days ago the pundits had changed their tune following the Centro avalanche, because the problem wasn’t confined to the domestic housing market, nor was it peculiar to the USA. Britain got clobbered. Now it’s Australia’s turn.

Companies, like Centro, which are highly leveraged – short term borrowing, bridging finance at high rates that have to be re-negotiated, borrowings at a high proportion of assets and earning potential etc. – are in for a rough ride. There are a lot of shareholders and investors in superannuation funds exposed to speculative property trusts which surfed in on the big wave of credit expansion, who are feeling rather sick right now. So much for our immunity.

Now the really good news flashed up red on the screen when the squeeze turned into a meltdown which the US Federal Reserve was unable to control with interest rate cuts and wads of money shovelled into the banks to soften the impact, on them, of their own junk loans. Once the credit squeeze ceased to be a mere liquidity problem and started to look like a money market collapse, prescient Tasmanians dared to quietly rejoice and put off their Christmas shopping for a day or two to watch the screens instead: Bloomberg, Squawk Box, Sky, ASX etc.

Some of you might be puzzled as to how this meltdown could possibly be good news for Tasmania?  It is good news because risk capital suddenly got much more expensive, or even impossible to get, not just in Australia but worldwide. Risk capital got a whole lot riskier if you were in the market, like the ANZ, to supply a couple of billion to finance a dodgy business in Tasmania spruiked by a hurdy-gurdy of Scandinavians who had taken advantage, if the truth be known but the Scandinavians would be the last to say so in public, of a board of dimwits.

Yes, that’s right. At a time when pulp mills all over the developed world are closing down because they can’t possibly compete with the developing world (the ‘global south’) or are being bailed out of insolvency with mountains of taxpayers’ money, the Finns were able to flog off a stupendously smelly, long dead fish disguised as a rainbow trout flashing silver in a mountain stream, to Dad and Dave and the bastard from the bush. Taken advantage of, you might say. Pretend international players taken for a ride by real international players.

Serve them right you might say. Let them borrow their two billion, let them borrow twice as much as the company is valued on the stock market, let them be leveraged so highly the earth is dislodged from its orbit around the sun, let them build the pulp mill, because, by 2010 the world will be a meaner place with rat devouring rat and nobody will want the world’s most expensive and environmentally ghastly pulp and the company will be doomed.

I know many readers might think that is justice on about the right scale given the level of contempt shown by the pulp mill proponents (and complicit governments) for the concerns of the people. I would disagree but not out of any love for the company. Let it be napalmed from a great height one part of me says.

But another part of me says let it survive and be marinated in the odium of the people until such time as it changes its ways and the current board of directors is gone to where boards of directors on the dark side go, but let us not have the pulp mill, not any cost, not even at the cost of Gunns sliding off the continental shelf into the abyss.

The risk is well and truly back in risk capital where it rightfully belongs. Many will be scorched as the subprime, slick credit and delusional accounting schemes work through the world economy, transforming world money markets into gut-shot dogs in the process. There will be an untold number of victims, deserved and undeserved and there will be a few winners as well.

The people of Tasmania are beginning to look like winners. Merry Christmas.

 

Bob McMahon

http://www.abetteraustralia.com

 It may also be of interest to Bob and other readers that one of the latest developments in the subprime shockwave is a legal matter which could potentially tear banks wide open. In a way, loans are like property. Smaller banks sell loan agreements and contracts on to bigger banks or investment groups. The debt of the homeowner continues, but is now to the new ‘owner’. But for a recently emerged technicality. A loan that is already in default cannot legally be transferred. Legal eagles are scrambling to navigate around this issue, but it may well be – in the extreme realms of possibility – that loans in default which have been on-sold may have in effect been annulled. Watch this space.

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 20, 2007 at 11:46 pm

The Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men: a movie to die in

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On the way to a preview of the new Coen Brothers’ film, No Country for Old Men, I actually heard from somebody that it is being widely praised as their best film to date. My reaction was mixed.

1. Holy crap, could any movie actually be that good?

2. What a f#$king stupid term of reference.

To announce that the Coen Brothers have made their best film is like saying that you only need to see one Wes Anderson film, or that if you’ve seen Boogie Nights, you should skip Magnolia. If you’ve heard It Takes a Nation of Millions… you’ll only get confused by Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet. Salma Hayek is only really worth seeing in Frida. Bill Hicks only did one truly awesome night of stand-up. Bjork’s best album is…. Do you get me?

To say that No Country for Old Men is possibly the best movie that the Coens have made is to suggest, insinuate – that Raising Arizona, Blood Simple, The Big Lebowski, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There were somehow practice for a main event and can now somehow be discarded from The Library of Awesomeness. Speaking of The Library of Awesomeness, look under ‘B’ for Barton Fink because that can go too, and don’t forget O Brother, Where Art Thou?, although that may be under ‘O’ – as in ‘obviously The Coen Brothers Best Film is a f%$king stupid subject for the making of comparisons’.

If you’re concerned about the plot, look in Wikipedia because I’m not going to reach into your future and diminish its juiciness. Suffice to say that “written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen” is a far better guarantee of timeless quality than “Quentin Tarantino presents”. If you don’t believe me, watch Hostel again.

One of the Coen trademarks evident in No Country for Old Men is the navigation of that space where circumstantial coincidences create the possibility for retribution and brutal violence – so much so that there is an almost ethereality to the whole thing.

Improbability becomes inevitability, while certainty becomes jarring disorientation. It seems to me that the Coens consistently work with stories that far too many directors would twist into bombastic explodaganzas, string-heavy tragedies, or preachy morality plays. It is their deliciously dark and understated humour which tempers the choices they make, and the choices they make provide beautifully effective vehicles for their dark humour.

Perhaps one of the most distinct ways in which the Coens inject themselves into the films that they make is to protect the stories from which they arise. Thrir films project subtle meanings and the asymmetries of realistic life – two essential ingredients which almost all mainstream Western filmmakers filtrate as if removing blemishes – even, perhaps especially, into confounding scenarios that would otherwise teeter on the brink of implausibility.

Perfect casting, great dialogue, compelling stories, deeply flawed characters, lethal conflict, fantastic soundscapes – these are certainly welcome elements in any film; the Coens not only bring all of these elements to this movie, but unite them in a seamless whole which delights, disturbs, shocks, bewilders and, importantly, asks more questions than it answers.

There is no room for tokenistic emotional response. The character portrayed Javier Bardem – absolutely magnetic as the justice-dispensing/chance-enforcing assassin from his first moment on screen – could be drawn from some horrible fairytale told by mafiosi to scare their children. But he is no caricature. Wise, sinister, cold, other-worldly, insane, brutal, relentless, but not typical. It’s impossible to imagine No Country being what it is without Bardem. He plays the nemesis to Josh Brolin’s skilfully crafted protagonist. While Brolin may in fact be his own worst enemy, as indeed may we all, this would be one of those questions best left to film critics (clamouring to simultaneously exude spoilers, text-bytes, and sociology dissertations). Tommy Lee Jones is an absolute pleasure – however uncomfortable – and the inclusion of Woody Harrelson is just showing off although, again, it’s perfect casting.

Either way you look at it, the result is timeless storytelling rather than stilted performance. You know the kind. Like when you’re just waiting for Tom Cruise to turn away from Jack Nicholson and shriek “how awesome was I just then? Wasn’t I awesome? Wow. I am such an awesome actor.” That doesn’t happen. Even in the dusty, harsh, dirty reality of a feverish hermit’s cabin, the Coens and their cast pull you far away from your seat, transported to that special place where the danger and relief are real, even though the money and guns (probably) aren’t.

No Country for Old Men is literally breathtaking storytelling at its best. To miss it would be a shame; to dismiss it, a sin. In 2007, the Coen Brothers, this film, and its exceptionally stunning conclusion are among the few remaining good reasons to not nuke America.

add to kwoff

Coming to Australia soon, possibly as early as Boxing Day.

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December 18, 2007 at 12:44 am

The Washington Post is a piece of $h!t, but these are pretty funny…

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  If you too are a fan of English as a language that evolves, rather than waiting for dictionaries and frustrated language teachers and newspaper editors to determine what is or is not a word which can legitimately be used to convey meaning, you’ll dig these too. Seriously, I wouldn’t give The Washington Post to a puppy to crap on. Actually… that’s probably the one situation where The Washington Post is the paper of choice. Point being, these are pretty good. 8. might just be my favourite, although 13 and 15 are definitely contenders. Anyway…

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational asked readers to take any
word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing
one letter, and supply a new definition.

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

12. Karmageddon: It’s when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes, and it’s a serious bummer.
13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you
14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

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December 17, 2007 at 10:48 pm

America The Stupid: prejudge this outcome.

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WHAT THE F#$K??!!!!! The United States effort to again derail climate change negotiations utterly defies any possibility of undamaged brain tissue.

Here are the two mantras for the little piggy cumsacks of the US delegation at the UN’s Bali conference.

– Including any detail regarding emission reduction targets for the wealthiest emitters of greenhouse gases is unacceptable, because it would be “to prejudge the outcome“.

– “All options are on the table

Now you may remember “all options are on the table” from such diplomatic triumphs as the overturning of the Geneva Convention, the invasion of Iraq, the hastened descent of the US into a complete police state, the 2008 aerial bombardment of Iran, climate change denial, and going down on Laura Bush. Obviously, the policy needs rewriting.

US delegations should instead declare that “all options are on crack“. That would at least be plausible.

But as for this new line of razor-edged anal beads, that committing to the minimum level of response necessary to marginally reduce the acceleration of global warming would be “to prejudge the outcome” of negotiations…. How goddamned brain damaged are you Nazi-bait bucket-c&%ted fist-whores in the Bush Administration that come up with this shit?

“Prejudge the outcome”? Is this the antithesis of “preemptive defence”? Which is itself analogous to “let’s rape and pillage that country before they get a chance to look at us funny”.

Preemptive defence – a nonsensical doctrine dreamed up by balding middle-aged neofascists who sniffed their mother’s panty-drawer hard enough to produce a lavender-infused psychotic aneurysm – is the military equivalent of stabbing cancer patients to death with a stick to reduce their risk of dying from a stroke.

Now the same genii who came up with this piece of diplomatic HIV have sent their new big gun to the review of Kyoto. Wouldn’t setting binding targets of at least 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 be a step toward producing, rather than ‘prejudging’ the outcome?

It doesn’t even make fucking sense. Look at it: “we don’t want to prejudge the outcome”? From the same fucking stupid assholes who brought the English language “embolden”, “enhanced interrogation techniques”, “they hate our freedom” and “flip-flopper”.

“Oh America, you look so hot in the red glow of this simmering planet tonight. The way the blood drips thickly from your clenched, trembling fist just gets me so… oohhhhh. And the sweat steaming off your chest, just caught in shards of moonlight, as you pause briefly to breathe… panting heavily from the exertion of kicking in the doors, faces, and genitals of a Columbian mountain village… Spit runs down your stubbly man-chin and your eye squint hard against the barrage of piss the world rains down upon you, but you raise your face up and bask in the spray as if it’s the winner’s-podium champagne. Oh God, America, I tremble with excitement as you loudly shit your pants, scoop a handful of the brown stain into your twisted mouth and proclaim it to be milk chocolate. Oh America, I just want to pull out one of your ribs and beat your stupid, fat, fucking skull with it until you promise to liberate me! Liberate me America! Feed me a big, nutritious bowl of your piss-champagne shit-chocolate acid-junk AIDS-blood Liberty!!”

“Sorry baby, not tonight.”

“Why America? Oh why? Why? Why not here? Why not now? Why not yet?”

“Because, baby, that would be to prejudge the outcome”. 

Written by typingisnotactivism

December 14, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Puppy doused in petrol, left to die on 6-lane Freeway. Home needed.

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MEDIA RELEASE
12 December 2007

GIVE WAGS A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Wags is a brave five month old scruffy terrier pup who was left to die on a six lane highway doused in petrol. Having seizures and unable to stand, heavens knows how he is still alive. A good samaritan took him to a nearby vet clinic (Elizabeth Drive Animal Hospital) where he was treated, but still remains without a home.

waggs5394.jpgWags was put on a drip and anti-seizure medication and his burnt skin was treated with topical ointments. Despite all that he has endured, he is a happy, bright boy who continues to wag his tail! The vet clinic contacted Doggie Rescue where Wags is now eagerly waiting for a home with a happy and caring environment.

Founder Monika Biernacki said DoggieRescue is currently over-run with puppies who have been dumped in council pounds in the lead up to Christmas.

“In all the years of rescue work, I have never seen so many puppies dumped at one time and we still have two weeks to go until Christmas. DoggieRescue will have its doors open throughout Christmas and is looking for volunteers to help man their Doggiewood shelter.”

DoggieRescue is a no-kill charity dedicated to saving dogs on death row from the council pounds. It currently has more than 20 puppies, all under 5 months of age, waiting for homes. DoggieRescue is in urgent need of puppy dry food, puppy milk, tick prevention products and toys. The Doggiewood shelter is located at Ingleside in the northern beaches.

For photos and details of all puppies, visit www.DoggieRescue.com or call DoggieRescue on (02) 9486 3133 / international 61-2-9486 3133

———————————————–

This is a media release I received from Monika’s Doggie Rescue. The work they do is quite amazing, especially given that they get by in a more or less self-funded/ donation-dependent manner. At the moment they are looking after at least sixty dogs from ages of about 7 weeks to 10 or more years. It’s quite a thing to see, especially as they’re such lovely animals and would all now be dead without Doggie Rescue’s intervention. Whether you’re an international or local reader, if there’s anything you can do to help, however big or small, it would make a difference and it would definitely be appreciated.

Please check out their website and donate just a little time, food, or payola if you can. 🙂

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December 13, 2007 at 1:23 pm