Monday, September 05, 2005

"This city has been destroyed."

There is absolutely no reason to stay here. There are no jobs. There are no homes to go to. No hotels to go to. There is absolutely nothing here. We advise people that this city has been destroyed. It has completely been destroyed.

-- New Orleans Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"George Bush doesn't care about black people."

I hate the way they betray us in the media. You see a black family, it says 'they're looting'. You see a white family, it says they're 'looking for food'. And you know that it's been five days because most of the people are black.

With the setup, the way America is set up to help, the poor, the black people, the less well off, as slow as possible. We already realize that a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way. And they've given them permission to go down and shoot us.

...

George Bush doesn't care about black people.


Kanye West speaks from the heart during an NBC telethon for victims of the hurricane. Mike Myers, and a nation, are caught completely off guard.

The video is available here in Windows Media Player and here in QuickTime. The QuickTime file is much better quality. Video courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

Perspective? "That is perspective! That is all the perspective you need!"

Look in the face of the baby. This is it. This is it. No sugar coating. No political spin. No Republicans or Democrats. People suffering. Let them go. Let them out of here! Let them go. Let them walk over this damn interstate and let them out of here!

What I saw on Fox News tonight almost brought me to tears. I was devastated to see the continued... the continued suffering of the people of New Orleans. Even more than that, though, I was... well it just touched my soul to see the honesty and raw humanity now emanating from all quarters of a once numb and apathetic people. My God. America has finally looked itself in the mirror and it hates what it sees.

Please, please watch the clip from Hannity & Colmes, from which the above quote was taken. Everyone needs to see this.

Click here to watch it in Windows Media Player and click here to watch it in QuickTime. The QuickTime file is much better quality. Video courtesy of Crooks and Liars.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Remembering Honesty

For so very long has the United States peddled lies as truth. Now, witness the backlash. Honesty and sincerity is pouring out of that country and touching people around the world.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in an interview on WWL Radio:

And I'll tell you, man, I'm probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I'm probably going to get in so much trouble it ain't even funny. You probably won't even want to deal with me after this interview is over.

...

But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places.

Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

The entire transcript is available at CNN.com. The audio recording is available through a link in the transcript.

Black And Poor In America

Convention Centre

Survivors despair outside the New Orleans Convention Centre.

* Picture courtesy of CathiefromCanada.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Somebody Has To Say It

I was watching CNN when Jack Cafferty of the Cafferty Report said what everyone was thinking.

Where the hell is the water for these people? Why can't sandwiches be dropped to those people in the Superdome. What is going on? This is Thursday! This storm happened 5 days ago. This is a disgrace. And don't think the world isn't watching. This is the government that the taxpayers are paying for, and it's fallen right flat on its face as far as I can see, in the way it's handled this thing.

He went on to point out,

... when they were removing Terry Schiavo's feeding tube, Congress got back in session on a Sunday night to pass some sort of a resolution. Here, they might get back on Friday -- the storm hit Monday. I guess it's all what's important to you..."

Thank you to Scott Tribe for the transcription.

Fucking Liars

President Bush wants us to believe that nobody could have anticipated the breach of levees protecting New Orleans from the waters of Lake Pontchartrain. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush appeared on CNN today, both peddling the same line.

With all due respect to these three men: stop fucking lying to us, assholes.

Everyone, including these men, was well aware of the potential for disaster in New Orleans, long before Katrina struck. In 2001, FEMA reported that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the United States. The levees that ended up breaking were only capable of withstanding a category 3 hurricane and plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to reinforce the levee system were continusouly frustrated as President Bush moved money to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq. For God's sake, how hard could it be to see disaster coming when most of New Orleans is below sea level. It was a city waiting to drown.

United States Reeling In The Face Of Disaster. Country Faces Political Implossion.

neworleansjpg

I don't even know where to begin. A major American city is under water. Thousands dead. Tens of thousands stranded. Hundreds of thousands homeless. The United States is facing calamity on an unfathomable scale -- the worst natural disaster in the country's history. And the U.S. government is almost entirely out of play. At all levels, elected officials responsible for the safety and security of their citizens have failed to provide the basic necessities of life. Almost four days after Katrina made landfall, almost no emergency service personnel, National Guardsmen or military units have made it into the city. Chaos reigns across New Orleans. Chaos. Police and rescue workers that have managed to get into the city are being shot at. A large hospital trying to evacuate patients has had to suspend the evacuation after rescue workers came under sniper fire. Flames from looted buildings illuminate the city at night. Large groups of refugees have struggled to exist with no food, no clean drinking water, no communication and no contact with authority of any kind. Thousands have found their way to the city's convention centre, where bodies now lie on the ground, covered with sheets, both inside and outside the building. "There was an old woman, dead in a wheelchair with a blanket draped over her, pushed up against a wall," reported CNN's Chris Lawrence. People are "being forced to live like animals. "Where are the buses? Where is the plan? Where is the help?"

God. I know. It's hard to believe this is actually happening. That it's not a script for some post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a vast human tragedy and the victims need our help. When Asia was devastated by a tsunami last December, I led a drive for donations among students at my law school. So it might surprise some to learn that last night, when a friend asked whether I'd be making a similar effort for those suffering in New Orleans, I answered with an emphatic, "No." Please understand, it wasn't at all that I had no sympathy for the victims. I simply felt that the United States, being the wealthiest, most powerful nation on Earth, would be more than capable of taking care of its own. I went on to say that, if my friend was feeling charitable, then perhaps he should donate to cancer research. His money would do no good south of the border.

I was wrong. The United States, a country that has long rested on weak, unstable scaffolding, is beginning to collapse as the world watches on. Having tied up billions upon billions of dollars and an immeasurable amount of human resources in Iraq, the U.S. now finds itself unable to offer any real assistance to the people it ostensibly went to war to protect. This is money the United States does not and never did have. Not only is there nothing left to tackle the tragedy in New Orleans, but the tens of billions it will take to recover from this disaster will slam the country even further into debt and eventually ruin its credit rating. America is almost broke. Compounding the problem is the fact that, even before Katrina, oil refineries and production facilities in the United States were running at full capacity. The hurricane simply accelerated the onset of what was an inevitable energy crisis.

The result is an impending political and cultural meltdown. The response of President Bush to this disaster has been tepid and disgraceful. He delivered his address to the nation with all the passion of a neutered house cat. He chose to fly over the city in the comfort of Air Force One when he should have been on the ground in New Orleans, surrounded by debris, promising to throw the full weight of his office as President behind efforts to end the despair of almost half-a-million souls who have lost their city. Most damning, however, is that he ignored innumerable reports that warned New Orleans was a catastrophe waiting to happen – a threat to life of equal or greater magnitude than a large-scale terrorist attack on New York City. Admittedly, previous administrations made the same mistake, but Bush and his crew now seem destined to pay the consequences for getting the nation’s priorities so terribly wrong. This administration is coming down and, if there is any justice, the collapse should begin with the impeachment of President Bush. It should end only when every public official responsible for allowing America to sink into such a sad state of instability and unsustainability is replaced with someone with a realistic worldview and a firm and sincere commitment to helping average American citizens live happy, fruitful lives.

I was wrong. Please, make a donation today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Fun With Crayons

Solicitors' Colouring Book

Looking for fun (.PDF, Adobe Acrobat Reader required) on a rainy day? Throw away the rest of those Crayolas, but keep the grey. Lawyers. Who says we don't know how to a good time?

If you have a really sick sense of humour, you may also enjoy the collections at Coloring Book.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Do Skyrocketing Prices Signal The End Of An Age?

Peak Oil Newspaper

I hate to say I told you so. I really do. In this instance, I would have much preferred to be wrong.

The price of oil continues to skyrocket and gas prices are rising in step. The price of a barrel of crude sits at $65.45 USD and the average price at the pumps in Ontario is approximately 20 cents higher than at this time last summer.

How long can this upard trend possibly last? "The general view is that anything like this would be temporary," says John Hamilton, a spokesperson for Petro-Canada. "But we've got to watch to see where the commodities market goes." Of course, if you've read my previous post on peak oil, you'll know that it's my opinion that there will be no permanent price relief. Globally, the easily accessible crude has already been tapped and there is little or no surplus refining capacity. As oil investors come to terms with this new reality, they are growing increasingly sensitive to any sign of regional instability and other factors that threaten to even temporarily disrupt production. The price of crude is being driven up accordingly. The market will become even more sensitive as supply stagnates and eventually begins to dwindle. I hesitate to offer the following prediction, as I’m far from an industry analyst, but it seems to be a safe bet that gas prices in Ontario will hit $1.20 CAD by the end of the summer and then either level off or climb in small spurts throughout the winter months. Even if the market does temporarily equilibrate, those expecting a return to the days of the three digit gas station sign will be disappointed.

Up until now, demand has been fairly elastic. People are loath to acknowledge the beginning of the end of the age of oil. After all, in addition to keeping us on the move, petroleum keeps our bellies full, our bodies healthy and our credit cards constantly maxed out. Still, consumers are starting to feel and react to the impact of ever-increasing fuel costs. Airlines have increased their fares and, in some areas, year-over-year gasoline consumption has been showing a decline. The reality is that consumers can expect an increasing burden from rising fuel costs, not only at the pump, but the shopping mall and grocery store too.

Since this spike isn’t being driven by an artificial constriction of supply, as it was in 1973, the only solution to rising energy costs is to fully develop a range of alternative energy sources. Though nuclear may enjoy a resurgence, such plants are expensive and take a long time to build. Not to mention that no one has yet to figure out what to do with spent fuel rods. The future lies in renewable energy, especially solar and wind. Unfortunately, humanity has so far chosen to sleepwalk into the future rather than acknowledge the looming energy shortage. Even if we were to simultaneously awaken from our collective slumber, no alternative energy program, no matter how vigorously pursued, would allow us to avoid the major and possibly catastrophic consequences of the end of an age.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My Therapist Says I Shouldn't Bottle This Stuff Up

Do you know how to use an elevator? You may think you do. It's likely, however, that you're one of the depressingly large number of people who are clueless when it comes to efficient human-elevator interaction. Nothing grates my nerves more than watching an otherwise fully functional adult walk onto a 'down' elevator when they really want to go 'up'. Take a tip from me, people. If your button's still lit up, then your elevator just plain ain't here yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Canada Must Learn To Speak The Only Language The U.S. Understands

With a bitch slap heard from coast to coast, the United States has given it to us good with their refusal to acknowledge a recent decision (.PDF, Adobe Acrobat Reader required) by the NAFTA Extraordinary Challenge Committee (ECC) concerning the long-running softwood lumber dispute between our two nations. The ECC, a top-level NAFTA panel, unanimously agreed that Canada has not been violating the international trade agreement by subsidizing lumber producers. The U.S. now owes us a whopping $5.5 billion plus interest in collected duties. In the place of a large novelty cheque, however, the U.S. has decided to offer us a quick punch to the gut. Classic playground bully.

With this brash and complete dismissal of a key NAFTA dispute resolution mechanism, the U.S. has put the future of free trade in the Americas in jeopardy. Any international agreement is only as strong as the commitment of the parties involved. As things now stand, NAFTA is effectively neutered. Worse than that, the treaty has become a mechanism for a country drunk on its own delusions of empire to take advantage of what it sees as a quiet and vulnerable friend.

There’s only one course of action open to us if we’re to protect ourselves from this diplomatic date rape. It’s time for an ultimatum. The U.S. must turn over the entire $5.5 billion or see its largest trading partner withdraw from NAFTA all together. In other words, it’s time to scream ‘rape’.

I know such a response seems extreme, even dangerous, but it's the only language the current U.S. administration understands. The threat of severely restricted access to our enormous stores of oil and gas and to our $200 billion market for American goods will cause an otherwise out of control administration to sober up and take notice. Canada is now the largest supplier of oil to the U.S., ahead of Saudi Arabia. The cost of access to such an abundant natural resource is sincerity, trust and respect. If Canadians feel they are being taken advantage of then the taps turn off. That’s a message any energy-loving American can understand.

P.S. It’s been exactly four weeks since my last post. My absence is the result of a mid-summer change in priorities -– a shift towards family, friends and full-time work. Still, the itch to write has been a constant companion this past month and I’ve finally decided to sit down and scratch it. I hope to write regularly, but will only do so only when inclination and free time coincide.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Senate Passes Historic Marriage Legislation

I finished my last post, only to have my anger and frustration tempered by breaking news from the CBC. Royal assent is expected as early as today. Needless to say, it's a great day to be a Canadian.

(UPDATE: Read more on this story at The National Post or BBC News.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Heterosexuals Demand A Monopoly On Screwing Kids Over

According to a recent poll conducted for The Globe/CTV, 55% of Canadians think the new marriage legislation should stand and do not want politicians to revisit the issue. It's an encouraging statistic that will no doubt cause Harper to reconsider his threat to repeal the legislation if elected Prime Minister.

One should be careful, however, in reading the poll results as a ringing endorsement of gay and lesbian rights. The survey also shows that 51% of Canadians do not believe that gay and lesbian couples should not be able to adopt children. 51%. This stat turns my stomach. Sure, the law in Ontario is clear -- gay and lesbian couples can adopt -- but it's the sentiment that upsets me. I suppose I take these things kind of personally and have always been sensitive to what others think. So, knowing that a large segment of the Canadian public has an irrational and baseless fear of allowing me to raise a child... frankly, it hurts. Do these people really believe that I, and the loving partner I eventually hope to find, am less qualified to have a child than a single parent working two jobs, or a struggling alcoholic, or a woman working on her fourth marriage? There are so many kids out there who have been mistreated or abandoned and who might blossom if provided with a stable and loving home in which to grow up. I find it bizarre that anyone would want to deny them this opportunity.

How badly do they think we'll fuck these kids up? Such strong opposition to gay adoption is a staggering blow to my faith in my fellow Canadians and a sentiment I don't think I'll ever understand. The fact that more than half of Canadians think we’ll somehow fuck kids up any more than they already have makes me want to vomit.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Klein Revisited

In a recent post, I wrote that marriage commissioners who refuse to marry gay and lesbian couples on moral or religious grounds should be forced to quit. That statement elicited several responses, including the following comment from an anonymous reader:

Anonymous said...
Actually, there is a reason for Alberta not to follow suit: they don't want to.

As long as some gov't representatives are willing to perform the service, there's no reason to force those who disagree on moral grounds to do it.

Those who don't agree with same sex marriage and don't wish to perform the services will be following the law of the land - Alberta's.

Ralph Klein hasn't been Canada's most successful politician by not following the will of the people. If the man can do anything, it's read which way the wind is blowing.

Though I've already responded in the comments section of the original post, I feel like my response warrants its own entry.

Bo said...
To Anonymous #1: I appreciate your comments, though I disagree. When I speak of marriage commissioners following the law of the land, I'm referring to federal law. Only the federal government has the right to define who can and can't be granted marriage licenses. In this case, they have said that all adults, regardless of sexual orientation can be issued a license. This is the law, whether or not Alberta chooses to recognize it as such.

As to there being "no reason to force those who disagree on moral grounds" to perform marriages for same-sex couples, I think that's untrue for both practical reasons and reasons of principle.

A practical reason: Imagine I want to get married on a particular day. I live in a small town with only two marriage commissioners at city hall. One is on vacation and the other refuses to marry me "on moral grounds." Who is supposed to perform the ceremony? Just as someone can be fired for not being able to work Saturdays or Sundays, the commissioner in this case should be let go for being unable to provide the public with the service for which he was hired.

A reason of principle: Marriage commissioners are government agents. If the government allows a particular commissioner to refuse to serve certain members of the public, then the government is guilty of discrimination. I tried to make this clear when I asked you to imagine an MTO agent refusing to issue a driver's license to a woman because he does not believe women should drive. Sure, another employee could serve this woman. "I'm sorry, I'm unable to serve you. Please wait for the next available agent," sounds like a relatively benign request, but it is pure discrimination and should not be condoned.