Gaza is dying — the battle has moved deep into its cities, jam-packed with 1.5 million civilians lacking food, medicine or water… But the global movement to end this war is building — as we spread the word the petition is at 430,000 signatures and rising, it has been delivered to top leaders at the EU, UN and Arab League, our US members are flooding their representatives with phone calls, and Avaaz members worldwide have donated over $120,000 to an ad campaign in key newspapers… The pressure is working — so we’re ratcheting it up with hard-hitting US ads pressing Barack Obama personally for an immediate change of tack, face-to-face petition deliveries to European leaders this week to get them to act, and working with Palestinians and Israelis to plan bold actions on the ground. But every one of these actions becomes stronger as more of us join the campaign. We need to reach 1 million signatures this week — thank you for signing the petition already, let’s all of us now take a moment to forward this email to all our friends and family so they can join us and be heard:
Voices for a ceasefire are finally being heard in the Israeli cabinet and media, Hamas is signalling it could accept a deal including Turkish forces and EU monitors, but the sides are too far apart to end this themselves. That’s why action by world powers is critical to break the deadlock — and global citizens’ voices can make all the difference if we raise an unstoppable voice calling on incoming President Obama, the EU and Arab and Muslim states to guarantee a fair and lasting ceasefire…
…It’s amazing what we can do when hundreds of thousands of us come together arond the world — and if we raise our efforts to another level this week, we could help to finally end the Gaza horror. Follow the link below to take the first step by signing the petition, then spread the word so others can do the same:
December 2, 2008 /Comments Off on John Oliver on Mumbai
Several days after the indiscriminate slaughter in Mumbai, it is still unclear exactly who is responsible. One BBC article has suggested that the smiling killers we have seen on CCTV, may have been less terrorists with a cause, than mere nihilistic celebrity seekers (like the pathetic creatures who shot up Columbine and Virginia Tech and others of their ilk). Certainly, people who can execute a six year old child in front of its parents or who deliberately target a hospital for women and children do not really seem to be asking for understanding for a particular cause. Still cause or not, doesn’t really make much difference. Terrorists or nihilists – they are still all shitheads at heart. I like what John Oliver on the Daily Show has to say about this:
When you’re a bankrupt ideology, pursuing a bankrupt strategy, the only move you’ve got is the dick one.
November 27, 2008 /Comments Off on Congo: Stop The Bloodshed
Message from Avaaz:
This morning, we received this tense demand for action from from Liberata Rumumba, a refugee and women’s leader in Eastern Congo pleading for Europe to send peacekeepers to protect her people, (click below to watch).
We know how to help. Last week, Avaaz ran a hard-hitting advertisement in The Times of London, pressing UK leaders to support a European force or risk responsibility for genocide — the British Africa minister called us immediately — and the British position shifted.
Now we’re challenging other EU leaders, taking this effective ad campaign Europe-wide – starting by placing ads in El Pais in Spain, Dagens Nyheter in Sweden, The European Voice in Brussels and NRC Handelsblad in the Netherlands. The Times ad was paid for by 300 small donations from Avaaz members. If just 3000 of us donate in the next 48 hours we can run ads across Europe before it’s too late – if we raise more funds than necessary we’ll put them towards further similar campaigns. Let’s chip in what we can to help the people of the Congo.LINK
Lately I’ve been highly entertained by the newly animated version of David Rees’ Get Your War On comics. If you’re not familiar with the strip, it features clip-art like office workers having insightful discussions on contemporary politics in general and the War on Terror in particular and being damn funny in the process.
Now 23/6 have animated it and I’m thoroughly hooked.
A funny sort of a day today; my first class being unusually well behaved and even the most intransigently awkward students being extremely well-behaved and doing exactly what I told them to do, I was early on in a very good mood. But then the last class of the day, which is usually friendly and fun, was today oddly awkward and unfriendly and unfortunately needed a bit of shouting at to get it into line… A further example of 竹に上下の節あり I suppose. Sometimes those jointy knobbly bits come in unexpected places.
There’s an interesting cogitation by David Cromwell on medialens today on one of the most contentious issues of WWII: whether or not the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. It’s an old debate that swings back and forth between the orthodox line that the bombings were a necessary evil and the revisionist view that it was a cynical tactical manoevre. People tend to plump down on one side or other of the argument and feel very strongly about it too. Why is this article worth reading? Well, for one thing: “Despite the topic’s near-disappearance from news agendas and contemporary debate, the threat of nuclear annihilation sadly remains. Humanity still stands at the edge of the abyss.” And also this article does seem to give a fuller picture:
Western historians debating the reasons for the end of the war have focused heavily on the U.S. ‘decision’ to drop the atomic bomb. But there has been relatively little attention devoted to the deliberations among the Japanese wartime ruling elite which led to surrender. Even less has been known about Soviet decision-making and the Soviet entry into the Pacific War against Japan.
A stumbling block until recently has been that no historian has been sufficiently fluent in English, Japanese and Russian to investigate the primary archival material – including internal government documents, military reports and intelligence intercepts – in all three languages. This partly explains why historical debate in the West has been so focused on the Truman administration’s motives and policy-making: this, after all, could be pursued on the basis of English-language material. For example, in 1965, ‘revisionist’ historian Gar Alperovitz published an influential book, ‘Atomic Diplomacy’, in which he argued that use of the atomic bombs was militarily unnecessary and was intended as a show of U.S. strength against Soviet power. There has been furious debate about this for several decades… LINK
On a tangent, there’s another interesting article up on the Mainichi Daily News website on Japanese Cyborg Farmers. As Japan’s population is aging and many young people are leaving the countryside in favour of big city life, researchers at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have built a robotic ex0-skeleton for old people so they can keep on farming well into their dotage. Marvellous. Now it’s ten o’clock already and I still haven’t eaten dinner. Why did I forget to eat?
This has to be the most uncomfortable summer I’ve had yet; too hot at night to sleep, and too hot in the day to eat… I spend all day indoors sitting in my underwear in front of my fan. But perhaps you don’t want to picture that. (Email me if you do). And of course, always in the background I hear the tick-tock-ticking as summer winds down to… BACK TO SCHOOL TIME! Yes, I’m depressed. But I keep busy!
Another fresh fresh posting up on Deepity-Deep Kyoto today telling you where to find Kyoto’s best pizzas:Pizza-Ya. Yeah! Yeah! Tasty pizza!
Tell me you don’t want to eat that!
And here’s a curious video (just for you Chris) of Dick Cheney, back in the alternate universe of 1994, telling us just exactly why it would be absolute madness to get involved in the “quagmire” of Iraq. Well, thank goodness we didn’t do that then.
Just how many additional dead Americans was Sadam worth?
I was reading today, about the last surviving veteran of the WWI trenches, the magnificently named Harry Patch, and I was thinking that this remarkable man, at 109, and having all those memories that no-one else living has, he must be feeling pretty lonely. And here’s the thing, he never spoke about the war until he reached a 100 years of age. He’s in a nursing home now and the light coming on in the room opposite his bedroom was what made him break his silence.
If I was half asleep – the light coming on was the flash of a bomb. That flash brought it all back. For eighty years I’ve never watched a war film, I never spoke of it, not to my wife. For six years, I’ve been here [in the nursing home]. Six years it’s been nothing but World War One.
War, he says, is a “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings”.
It wasn’t worth it. No war is worth it. No war is worth the loss of a couple of lives let alone thousands. T’isn’t worth it … the First World War, if you boil it down, what was it? Nothing but a family row. That’s what caused it.
Which reminded me of a little history lesson from Edmund Blackadder:
Well, I’ve decided to name and shame yesterday’s rat-infested restaurant. Apparently, all restaurants are required by law to get thoroughly cleaned out once a year, so they are obviously cutting corners there. They have a problem, they are aware of it and clearly are not taking any steps to do anything about it. So, the restaurant in question is (drum-roll please): Didi’s curry house on Higashioji Dori. It’s a shame because I did like their veggie curry – but no more! Rats in restaurants is very, very wrong.
Here’s a couple of links. First off, there’s fresh review of Tsurugi with some arty pictures, up on Deep Kyoto that I’ve just finished.
Also, watch this and tell me you don’t want to see it too: 1408
And I’ve been reading about a Japanese Government decision to tone down reports that the army ordered Okinawan civilians to commit mass suicide at the war’s end: LINK
Now earlier this week, a group of MPs from the right-wing ruling party claimed China had exaggerated the number of people killed by Japanese troops in Nanjing in 1937. LINK
And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drew condemnation abroad earlier this year after he questioned whether there was any proof that Japan’s military coerced women to work as sex slaves during the war. LINK
Which all follows a controversial new law that enforces the teaching of patriotism in schools. LINK
Not to mention ongoing plans to revise the country’s pacifist constitution: LINK
There’s a good article up on Z-Net about the Prime Minister’s denial of responsibility for the mass rape of women during WW2. Here’s why you should read it:
Looked at in starkest relief, the democratically elected leader of the world’s second richest nation — one that currently aspires to international leadership in the UN Security Council — committed an act of open violence. He denied the few remaining survivors of a well-documented history the right to claim the dignity that has come as a result of telling their story since 1993 when the Government of Japan first publicly accepted responsibility.
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It’s Wednesday, but if feels like the weekend already. I’ve only got one more day of work, a bit of marking and planning for the next school year and then I’m on Spring vacation until April 6th.
Wahoo! Also, I don’t have to teach Junior High from next term, only Senior High, so hopefully it will be a quieter, more stress-free 12 months. Jules (my co-worker) is very very jealous indeed.
Here’s another nice Joe Strummer video. I think I might make this Joe Strummer Week, and put one up each day. Enjoy!
Generally, I try to keep this blog happy, positive and upbeat but I’m not happy today and if people don’t like it, that’s too bad. This news has made me very angry.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s grandfather was a war criminal who got away with it. However, as Shinzo Abe claims that convicted Class A war criminals aren’t criminals at all (“under domestic law” – nice bureaucratic touch that) he probably doesn’t have a problem with that. Now he is carrying on his grandpappy’s legacy with his own nationalistic agenda. His attempts to bury history and to instill a nationalistic pride in the nation’s youth with his education “reforms” are causing much concern in Japan and abroad. And now he is denying that there is any evidence Korean and Chinese women were coerced into sexual slavery during World War 2. The truth is that hundreds of thousands of young women and children were abducted by the Japanese military in a government approved program and forcibly raped by up to fifty men a day. They were called “comfort women”. Not many survived and those that did were left with severe physical and psychological injuries. Today, you will sometimes see them on a news program or in a newspaper. What you will see is an old lady crying outside of a courthouse because the Japanese legal system has yet to award these women recognition or compensation of any kind. There has been no official apology. And now the Prime Minister has the gall to say it never happened. Haven’t these people been hurt and insulted enough?
I seriously worry about Japan’s future with such a despicable man at the helm. How many people support him? Who will speak out?