Wednesday, May 31, 2006


(trich·i·no·sis) a disease due to infection with a parasite, seen following the eating of undercooked contaminated meat...

Very well done animation. Thanks to Anticonsumer who has some great videos and documentaries posted on YouTube.

More Humour and Film

Monday, May 29, 2006

How to Get Out of Iraq

"Ultimately, getting out of Iraq requires airplanes and ships. Everything else is conjecture..."
From Joshua Holland over at Alternet:

Stumbling in is fine but when the discussion goes to getting out of Iraq, we're suddenly micro-managers worrying about the consequences of our actions.

Nobody can really say for sure what would happen if we left Iraq tomorrow, but if we can go in as part of a grand experiment in democratization -- or whatever -- with no clue how it would turn out, why can't we get out the same way? Let's turn it around and pull out -- for a change -- and see what happens.

So here's my two-step plan for getting out of Iraq. Step one: come up with a catchy name for pulling out, something like Operation Victorious Homecoming. Step two: tell the Pentagon you want Operation Victorious Homecoming executed with maximum military efficiency and the minimum loss of life. Simple.

Things have gone from bad to worse the longer the US is there (see this excellent Iraq War Timeline), so staying isn't likely to make anything better. But wait, silly, the US isn't staying there in order to bring stability to the people! It's staying so as to secure a permanent military presence in the region, the better to protect strategic economic interests (yes, including oil interests). Oh, and there's still LOTS of money to make off the "reconstruction".

More on War in Iraq

Friday, May 19, 2006

Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

The global food system needs fixing and fast, says Darrin Qualman, NFU's research director.

"Many Canadian and U.S. farmers are going out of business because crop prices are at their lowest in nearly 100 years," Qualman said in an interview. "Farmers are told overproduction is to blame for the low prices they've been forced to accept in recent years."

However, most North American agribusiness corporations posted record profits in 2004. With only five major companies controlling the global grain market, there is a massive imbalance of power, he said.

"The food production system is designed to generate profits, not produce food or nutrition for people," Qualman told IPS.

He says there are enormous amounts of food stored in central Canada's farming heartland, but thousands of people there, including some farm families, are forced to rely on food banks.

Unlike pretty much all of the other years since the green revolution, we are not only facing distribution problems, but actually production shortages, according to this article. It states: "in five of the last six years, global population ate significantly more grains than farmers produced." One more reason it would be disastrous to attempt to substitute ethanol for gasoline (quoting Monbiot: "a humanitarian and environmental disaster").

It also mentions The Millenium Villages Project which seems quite interesting, producing local scale sustainable farming in some of the poorest countries.

More Food Politics, Environment

Weltschmerz (Comic)

Get the book or read
the Archives

More Comics

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reality Check: War in Iraq

Media Matters has a nice look back at the "media's fawning coverage of Bush's premature declaration of victory in Iraq". Some exceptional quotes from Chris Matthews (May 1, 2003's edition of Hardball):
The President "won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics." Or try this: "The president there -- look at this guy! We're watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but... he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does." and "Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president."

Dahr Jamail (May 10, 2006):
As bad as things are in Iraq today, it may come as a surprise to many people in the US, including many who never supported the illegal invasion and occupation to begin with, that Iraq has been a disaster from the first day of the invasion.
At one point during that presentation in Austin, I attempted in vain to describe to the audience what life in Baghdad is like. It was in vain, because how can anyone in the United States begin to imagine what it is like to be invaded, to have our infrastructure shattered, to have occupying soldiers photographing detained Americans in forced humiliating sexual acts and then to have these displayed on television, to have our churches raided and worshippers therein shot and killed by occupation troops?

It is only when more people in the US begin to fathom the totality of the destruction in Iraq that one may expect to hear the public outcry and uprising necessary to end the occupation and bring to justice the war criminals responsible for these conditions. Until that happens, make no mistake: all of us participate in a new Iraq, our hands dyed in the blood of innocents.

Faux News (April 30, 2006) says all's well in Iraq except the oil.
Dozens of firehouses and hundreds of police stations have been rebuilt in Iraq. Thousands of schools are fixed. Millions more Iraqis have access to cellular telephones.

But oil and gas production, which fuels Iraq's fragile economy, has yet to return to levels before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 despite slight improvements in recent months.

The main reason: insurgent attacks on facilities.

Democracy Now (April 25th, 2006):
Currently, 150 U.S. corporations have received $50 billion worth of contracts, as you said in the introduction, to utterly fail in reconstruction in Iraq, but the money has still been granted.

More on the War in Iraq, Media Issues

Friday, May 05, 2006

Scared of Iran?

A few important points:

First, according to certain translations Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to wipe Israel off the map... He was quoting an old speech of Khomeini when he said "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." This is often mis-translated, according to some. Whether you agree or not, at least it should be recognized that the statement was not as clear-cut as those flinging it about seem to think. Read more at Wikipedia.

Secondly, The commander of the armed forces is the Supreme Jurisprudent, Ali Khamenei. The Iranian military isn't controlled by the president any more than the "US military will act on the orders of the secretary of the interior." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is actually pretty powerless.

Thirdly, there is a premise here that the US has the right and responsibility "to launch an unprovoked attack on a country because it might, at some point, develop one one-thousandth of the nuclear capacity that we ourselves have." This is why it is so important for everyone to buy into the "nuclear mad-man story". The story goes something like this: Iran can't be trusted to have nukes, because unlike the USA, "a homicidal maniac with no regard for human life runs the country". There is a possibility that they have the bomb, but the USA has around 10,000 nukes. Who's policing the self-proclaimed police?

I'm not defending Ahmadinejad, but we need to stick to reality. It is a mistake to let irrational fear provide the excuse for another war. Sure, Iran may be ruled by an authoritarian regime, but that is no excuse for waging war - do we want another Iraq?

We need to support the struggles of the progressive Iranian women, youth, students, and activists who are doing courageous and creative things to promote their freedom. The Persian culture is rich and vibrant and needs to be respected, despite tyrranical rule.

Read more from Juan Cole's article which inspired Joshua Holland's piece.
More on Middle East, Politics

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How to spot a terrorist

According to a Texas manual, some characteristics of Terrorists include:

Focused and committed
Team-oriented and disciplined
Familiar with their physical environments
Employ a variety of vehicles and communicate by cell phone, email, or text messaging
Try not to draw attention to themselves
Look like students, tourists, or businesspersons
Travel in a mixed group of men, women, and children
Avoid confrontations with law enforcement
Use disguises or undergo cosmetic surgery

I bet you know a terrorist! From the MoJo Blog. Read the comments too, they are funny.
More Fun & Humour