Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia have signed a historic trade agreement
, in order to counteract what the United States' attempt to "annex" Latin America through the FTAA.
The deal, whose Spanish acronym- ALBA- means 'dawn', is definitely spicy. Said one [American] Political Analyst: ""According to any reasonable definition of the term, this is not a trade agreement. It's an attempt to pose a real counterweight to the U.S. role and agenda in Latin America."
And good for them, I say. But I'm worried. Latin American leaders who run contrary to the USA's agenda often find themselves the victims of unfortunate accidents. Like bombings, assasinations, CIA-backed coups and violent proxy wars. Castro himself has survived a few of these little love-taps from the US. I have seriously mixed feelings about Castro and Chavez, and Bolivian President Evo Morales has said some fairly inflammatory things since his election in January. Still, these guys are providing a real, if flawed, alternative to American-led free trade. I just hope they don't get offed for it.
We're Gonna Get Snowed
The White House has announced that Fox News Commentator Tony Snow
will become the new Press Secretary. The appointment makes a lot of sense, since Fox has long been functioning as Bush's PR department anyway.
As well as being a loyal ideologue, Snow seems to understand Dubya's unique take on political communication:"President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies -he thinks it's beneath him,"
Ah yes, George. Democracy can be so tiring. Nice that you have someone new to dance in front of your inferiors, allowing you to get on with important business. Namely, eroding personal freedom, lying to the American people, being a war criminal and clearing brush on your ranch.
Oh, and careful when you click on the photo. It's an 8x10 signed glossy, which this man of the people makes available on the Fox News
website. He's so dreamy
The Euston Manifesto
Here's a little bright light for all of us frustrated lefties. A group of British bloggers, journalists and intellectuals have come together and launched The Euston Manifesto
. It is a statement of principles for "a progressive democratic alliance" that attempts to overcome some of the factionalism in today's political left.
The group makes commitment to democracy and democratic principles their central concern. This allows them to stake out some more muscular positions on current affairs, combating the niggling tendecy of today's leftist to trap themselves in morally ambiguous positions. In particular, I like their stand on Iraq:
The founding supporters of this statement took different views on the military intervention in Iraq, both for and against. We recognize that it was possible reasonably to disagree about the justification for the intervention, the manner in which it was carried through, the planning (or lack of it) for the aftermath, and the prospects for the successful implementation of democratic change. We are, however, united in our view about the reactionary, semi-fascist and murderous character of the Baathist regime in Iraq, and we recognize its overthrow as a liberation of the Iraqi people. We are also united in the view that, since the day on which this occurred, the proper concern of genuine liberals and members of the Left should have been the battle to put in place in Iraq a democratic political order and to rebuild the country's infrastructure, to create after decades of the most brutal oppression a life for Iraqis which those living in democratic countries take for granted — rather than picking through the rubble of the arguments over intervention.
This opposes us not only to those on the Left who have actively spoken in support of the gangs of jihadist and Baathist thugs of the Iraqi so-called resistance, but also to others who manage to find a way of situating themselves between such forces and those trying to bring a new democratic life to the country. We have no truck, either, with the tendency to pay lip service to these ends, while devoting most of one's energy to criticism of political opponents at home (supposedly responsible for every difficulty in Iraq), and observing a tactful silence or near silence about the ugly forces of the Iraqi "insurgency". The many left opponents of regime change in Iraq who have been unable to understand the considerations that led others on the Left to support it, dishing out anathema and excommunication, more lately demanding apology or repentance, betray the democratic values they profess.
I encourage everyone to check out the site...from human rights to anti-terror, the Manifesto provides a practible way forward for individuals with progressive values.
While not perfect, I think the Euston project is an extremely important step for the political left. I've been long convinced that we need a more 'muscular' progressive movement that trancends both obsolete notions of 'left' and 'right' and the crippling obsession with identity politics. If we want to achieve political power, then a real-world, articulate vision is required. The Euston Manifesto is not a panacea, but it does provide some clues on how to build a new, robust progressive movement in Canada.
Judas tells his side of the story 2000 years late; PR experts fear damage already done
Judas Iscariot, much maligned as the betrayer of Christ, has just released his gospel
. If by 'released' you mean 'found in an Egyptian cave in 1978, passed among antiquities dealers, then finally restored and translated'.
The scroll, written between 220 and 340 CE, apparently paints a fairly flattering picture of ol' Judas, at least compared to the typical portrayal of him as a demonic monster. According to the scroll, Jesus ordered Judas to sell him out, and thus complete his destiny.
While you'd think something like this might raise some eyebrows in the Christian Church, most scholars are skeptical. Apparently, it was written by the Gnostic sect, who were long ago ruled 'heretics'. You might remember the Gnostics from The Da Vinci Code
; they were the blokes that kept the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, brutally punished for their interpretation of Christianity. Apparently, there were almost 30 different gospels excluded from the bible for various reasons, not least of which was the reliability of the sources. Still, there was a lot of politics in the early church, as different sects fought for control over doctrine, a lot of stuff was edited out of the bible. Like a flattering depiction of women, for example.
Anyway, in a perfect world, the release of a document like the Gospel of Judas might spark a healthy little debate within the walls of Christianity about the foundation of its dogma. In a perfect world.
Real-life missing link crawls out of ocean on half-formed legs, slaps creationists in face
Scientists have discovered the 375-million-year-old fossilized remains of a 'missing link' between sea and land animals
. The findings are published today in Nature
The fish- 'Tiktaalik roseae', Inuknutuk for 'large shallow-water fish'-possesses the beginnings of digits, proto-wrists, elbows and shoulders, and was able to pull itself over land for short distances. Such an intermediary creature is "a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwin's theory." As paleontologist Erik Ahlberg noted, the Tiktaalik "might in time become as much an evolutionary icon as the proto-bird Archaeopteryx." What? Another Archaeopteryx? You're putting me on.
As a result of this discovery, scientists now expect to find the fossilized remains of Intelligent Design
advocates, the missing link between 'fantasy' and 'truth'.
USA to Iraq: first we bomb, then we sell you out
For a president who talks about bringing democracy to Iraq like its a divinely-ordained mission, he's sure going about it in a funny way.
The WP reports today that the upcoming budget shifts dollars from projects designed to foster democracy to security training
. This means organizations that "teach Iraqis how to create and sustain political parties, think tanks, human rights groups, independent media outlets, trade unions and other elements of democratic society"
will have to close up shop. Respected NGO Freedom House
calls this change in priorities, simply, 'a travesty'.
Listen close, Commander Cuckoo Bananas
. You don't build democracy by investing in heavily-armed militias. Democratic government is bloody hard to do...the West has been at it for 200 years, and we still manage to louse it up on a daily basis. We need to provide the resources and expertise the Iraqi people need to build participatory institutions, and replace the ones we blew up. That's how you achieve your mission, Bush. Unless that's not the reason you invaded in the first place? Hmmmm.
All of this comes on the heels of a Wisconsin Referendum where a majority voted to bring the troops back home
. Memo to the American People: look, I feel bad for you. You let yourselves be manipulated into an immoral war by an administration of idiots. But you can't just leave. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: you break it, you bought it. The second the first bomb hit and the first American boot hit Iraqi soil, a very long and messy obligation was created. Don't compound your first moral error with a second and leave Iraq to fester in civil war.
Simpsons Movie Confirmed!
20th Century Fox has confirmed world-wide release of The Simpsons Movie
for July 27, 2007. The countdown begins.
View the teaser clip Here
Its safe to say my life has been leading up to this movie. They'd better not louse it up.
Moussaoui Found Eligible for Execution
This just in: a federal jury has decided Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty
for his role in the 9/11 Attacks.
This means the trial now moves into its second phase, where prosecutors will try to convince the jury to execute Moussaoui.
I'm no lawyer, but this seems a little suspicious to me. Can you execute a man for lying? I'm not saying I have an answer, but that's what this case comes down to. True, his lies may have prevented law enforcement from stopping 9/11. But, in light of some of the evidence presented at the trial, the FBI might have been its own worst enemy. From the WP:
The defense unearthed government documents that showed FBI headquarters ignored repeated warnings from the bureau's own agents in August 2001 that Moussaoui was a terrorist who wanted to hijack an airplane. One FBI agent who testified for the government, Harry Samit, admitted on cross-examination that he had issued more than 70 such warnings to his superiors but was obstructed through what he labeled "criminal negligence.''
This whole thing smells a bit like scapegoat.
The Conservative Party and Hamas: more in common that you might think
Oh, supreme gods of irony, I thank thee for the sweet bounty you have provided.
I knew there was something strange about the CPC's decision to cut all contact and aid to the Palestinian Authority
because of Hamas (the only country to do so...we out-americaned the Americans on this one). Thanks to my endlessly clever friend Andy Astritis, I now know what it is: Hamas and the Conservatives are political cousins.
Now before I get brutally flamed by my esteemed friends in the tory blogosphere, I'm not suggesting that Hamas and the Conservatives have the same policies, goals or structures. I would not be so crass. There's no comparison. Except one.
The circumstances around both parties' ascendency are almost identical. A weary electorate, tired of government corruption and arrogance, decided to vote in a challenger party. Unfortunately, voters got a lot more than they bargained for. The Palestinians got an international crisis and a derailment of the peace process. Canadians got a vaguely authoritarian
government who claim a minority government gives them the mandate to screw up a good daycare program, cut funding to environmental programs and unilaterally commit the military to a combat role in Afghanistan without so much as a squeak of debate. At least Hamas managed to get a majority.
I'm being a bit flip here, but I think you get my point. Conservatives, behave yourselves! You lucked out once, but the Canadian people will only tolerate your shenanigans for so long. That's right. Shenanigans.