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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/28/2008 - 01/04/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Israeli ground forces invade Gaza

i am completely fed up with israel... the ones calling the shots in that country are running a terrorist state and one week from today, i will be in jordan, a stone's throw from israel's southeastern-most border and the israeli city of eilat... the jordanians are pretty upset with israel anyway over the latest gaza attacks and this is just going to make things that much worse...
Israeli ground forces moved in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday evening, on the eighth day of a massive Israeli offensive against militants in the salient.

The ground operation was preceded by an artillery barrage which lasted for hours, and reports said the troops were backed by air support.

There was no immediate indication how far into the salient the troops had penetrated, or what type of resistance they were meeting.

An Israeli Army spokeswoman declined to discuss the operation.

and my country is supporting this campaign of death and destruction...

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there ARE fireworks...!

at the moment (11:53 p.m., Argentina time), it sounds like all-out war around my neighborhood here in buenos aires... thankfully, it's "war" of the joyful, celebratory, hopeful kind... here's hoping that 2009 sees a redemption from the horrors of the past eight years, eight years that's seemed like an eternity...

the bbc has a record of the goings-on around the world...

and here's a couple of youtube clips of videos i took of the "war" taking place on MY street...

this one family right around the corner offered up a finale that was definitely in a league with some of the larger public displays i've seen... it went on, massive explosion after massive explosion and a continuous light show, for well over five minutes... the other neighbors were gathered in small groups on the street corners with their mouths hanging open and burst into spontaneous cheers and applause when it was over... like i said, the argentines love them some fireworks...!

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Embarrassing moments prior to ringing in the New Year in Argentina


i arrived back in argentina yesterday, a bit worn out from a full day in airports and an overnight flight... the good news was that the flights were all smooth and on-time, my luggage arrived with me, nothing was stolen and it was a glorious summer morning here in buenos aires when i got off the plane...

after a shower and some superficial unpacking, i walked over to the supermarket in the early afternoon to pick up some necessities... i won't define "necessities" for you, just suffice it to say that mantecol was on the list (see below)... i was able to lay my hands on most everything i wanted but when i got to the checkout counter, i was dismayed to find i hadn't enough money... i could have SWORN on a stack of bibles that i did, but upon retrieving the wad of bills from my pocket, i was horrified to find that, in addition to argentine pesos, i had grabbed a handful of macedonian dinars as well... (macedonian currency, while not identical to argentine currency, is enough alike to withstand a cursory glance which is all i had given it when i took it out of the foreign currency pocket in my travel folder... sigh...) the cashier was somewhat taken aback when i announced that i wouldn't be paying for ANY of it... i figured i would come back later and do my own self-imposed version of groundhog day...

(note: mantecol makes another variety called "mega," coated with chocolate, which is, to my way of thinking, incredibly more delicious - and positively addicting - than the regular variety...)

well, after walking back home to nurse my wounded pride and then later walking back to the bank atm and getting more cash, i did go return to the supermarket, tail between my legs, only to find that the store was about 10x more crowded than it had been earlier... hmmmm... by that time, jet lag was rapidly catching up, so i decided to postpone it 'til today and instead marched on to the fruit and vegetable kiosk and the corner chinese convenience store to get enough things to tide me over...

i managed to sleep to nearly 10:30 this morning, something i almost never do, but that's just an indication of not only how tired i was, but how completely being back here relaxes me... so, after a very leisurely late morning and early afternoon, punctuated by a french toast with fresh peaches, scrambled eggs and brazilian coffee breakfast, i moseyed back over to the supermarket only to find it was about TWICE as crowded as it had been when i huffed away last evening... double sigh... needless to say, i stuck it out and was pleasantly rewarded by almost 45 minutes in line enjoying my argentine neighbors chattering with excitement over their plans for the evening festivities...

big holidays, particularly christmas and new years, are celebrated with special relish by the argentines... at midnight on both christmas and new years eves, there is nothing to compare with the explosion of fireworks taking place on every street in every barrio in the city... literally, it is impossible to even walk across a street without tripping over a kid in the process of lighting a fuse... and, lemme tell ya, some of those fireworks are B.I.G., as in H.U.G.E...! two big fireworks companies, jupiter and cienfuegos, are the major suppliers and one of them, jupiter, garners business from all over the world to put on displays...


and, as long as i'm shamelessly shilling, take a look at jupiter's awards...


so, after completing my restocking (even though i have to leave again a week from friday), i walked the two flat tires attached to my bike over to the service station to get them re-inflated and, as i passed the entryway of my neighbor's house around the corner, i was reminded that, for the past three years, i have blown the opportunity to grab a photo of their annual holiday decorating... my intentions have been good, i just never seem to have had my camera in hand before they took it down after new years... so, after riding my back back, i snatched up the camera and finally made good my promise to take a picture of it, offered below for your amusement and edification...


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What it's like when an Israeli missile hits your home and why Israel wants to keep international observers out

al jazeera...
Palestinian families are wondering whether they will become the next target after four days of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.Palestinian families are wondering whether they will become the next target after four days of Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip.

israel is so fearful of what international observers might witness, they nearly sank a boat carrying a cnn correspondent and a former u.s. oongresswoman...

juan cole...

In fact, an Israeli ship rammed a vessel attempting to deliver medical supplies to Gaza, severely damaging it and endangering the passengers, who included Karl Penhaul of CNN and former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The boat, which was in international waters, could easily have sunk.

more from al jazeera...

much more on the continuing atrocities from juan cole...

on this last day of perhaps the most historical year in my memory, let us all put our minds toward the ending of horrors like this, not just for the palestinian people, but for all peoples around the world...

enough is enough...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can Conscience Define Us?

In a time when Americans live to work and define themselves by their work, Mike Gogulski (, is defining himself with his conscience. In hard times, this becomes exponentially more difficult. If indeed we are forced to accept that our work defines us, shouldn't we consider what Mike writes in this holiday note?

Dear tool

24 December 2008 by Mike Gogulski

You are the technician tightening bolts on the Enola Gay. You are the clerk with the bad attitude behind the desk at the motor vehicles office. You are the janitor cleaning up the blood after the firing squad is finished. You are the programmer coding for the tax authority. You are the accountant for the land mine manufacturer. You are the policeman shooting the dog. You are the economist justifying inflation. You are the drill sergeant training men to kill. You are the legislator scheming for graft. You are the hangman tying the noose. You are the tech support person fixing the general’s email. You are the judge who beats his wife. You are the translator for the military ammunition tender. You are the inquisitor strapping the heathen to the rack. You are the logistics officer making sure the missiles get to the front line. You are the professor applying for the government grant. You are the plumber for the prison. You are the editor squelching the controversial view. You are the mathematician for the spy agency. You are the priest serving the pharaoh. You are the project manager bidding on the army contract. You are the installer putting up the surveillance camera. You are the bank officer filing the suspicious transaction report. You are the customs inspector. You are the teacher exhorting the students to pledge to the flag. You are the craftsman repairing the guillotine. You are the engineer designing the bomb. You are the businessman without conscience. You are the school principal paddling the student. You are the receptionist at the embassy. You are the security guard at the munitions dump. You are the agent infiltrating the activist group. You are the carpenter assembling the cross for the crucifixion. You are the chauffeur for the politician. You are the cop gassing the protester. You are the news commentator apologizing for war. You are the doctor preparing the lethal injection. You are the lawyer justifying torture. You are the research assistant at the bio-weapons lab. You are the informant ratting out the neighbor. You are the construction worker building the border fence. You are the graphic designer for the propaganda campaign. You are the soldier bayoneting the child.

How can you sleep at night?

Merry Christmas, you fucking tool.

I carry the chains of Jacob Marley, forged from the sins of my past life. Even though I am not a man of faith, I do believe there is a cost for our behavior in this life. Removing the links in those chains are the focus of my current personal and professional life.

I will not work for companies or corporations that undermine the basic and universal ethical rules that we all know are right. It has cost me a lot of money, time, and friends.

Yes, you must survive and provide for your family. However, consider if you wish to survive by the suffering of others. Real change starts with the individuals, who choose to participate in a society bereft of ethical guidelines, dedicating themselves to following the guidance of their own conscience.

Something to consider for the New Year.


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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel and Gaza - an asymmetrical response added to an already long list of Israeli war crimes

i am at a total loss to explain this without resorting to the most despicable of terms: genocide and war crimes...

juan cole...
Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.

and we wonder why the islamic world breeds fundamentalists intent on destroying the u.s. and israel... can you even imagine our response if this kind of atrocity was committed against us...? what about 9/11 you say...? consider this...
America is involved, up to its eyeballs actually. Today, after Israeli air-strikes that killed over 200 Palestinians in Gaza, the Middle East is again seething with rage. Recruiters to the most radical of causes are again cashing in. If Osama Bin Laden is indeed a cave-dweller these days then U.S. intel should be listening out for a booming echo of laughter. Demonstrations across the Arab world and contributors to the ever-proliferating Arabic language news media and blogosphere hold the U.S., and not just Israel, responsible for what happened today (and that is a position taken, for good reasons, by sensible folk, not hard-liners).

while i totally understand the rage in the islamic world, i completely fail to grasp how the rest of the world can stand by and allow atrocities like this to continue unchallenged...

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