Lets Go Everywhere


Take it like a man
November 23, 2006, 4:54 am
Filed under: APEC, bush, Canada, News and politics, politics, Uncategorized, vietnam

OTTAWA — Anyone watching question period in the House of Commons today would be forgiven for thinking they’d tuned into fashion television.Prime Minister Stephen Harper and interim Liberal leader Bill Graham traded barbs over the recent Asia Pacific Summit and the best place to wear a silk gown.

It started by Graham kidding the prime minister about the blue gown he wore for a photo op in Vietnam, telling Harper he “looked spectacular.”

The prime minister shot back that wearing local garb is a tradition at the APEC summit and that unlike Graham, he was wears his “silk on the outside.”

Not to be outdone, Graham said he’s certain he has just as many embarassing pictures of himself as the ones of Harper in Hanoi.

The prime minister assured the Opposition leader that he’ll use his influence with the media to keep Graham’s pictures from being published.

harper-in-silk.jpg

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George Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers

Hello friends, I know it’s been a while. I haven’t posted anything in ages due to the fact I’ve been levelled by a flu.Our new Swiss intern at the magazine brought me a nice, long-lasting European flu strain that had me in bed for days. The worst part was the headache — like a jackerhammer in my head for hours. Ahhh, and shivering with cold in 35 degree heat. Nice!

No worries though; today I am on the mend and I plan to get him back somehow.

The sicktime has also given me a chance to catch up on my reading — I finished re-reading Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and started Static by Amy & David Goodman. Static is good, so far, and A Fine Balance is one of my all-time favourites.

While browsing HuffPo today, I noticed this article from the New York Times:

Unlike Clinton, Bush Sees Hanoi in Bit of a Hurry

Hanoi, Sunday, Nov. 19 — President Bush likes speed golf and speed tourism — this is the man who did the treasures of Red Square in less than 20 minutes — but here in the lake-studded capital of a nation desperately eager to connect with America, he set a record.

On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade. …

Waiting for One More Star

The Hadong Silk shop in this city’s Old Quarter is the first port of call for well-heeled visitors on the hunt for the tailor-made silkwares for which Vietnam has become famous. This weekend, with heads of state from 21 countries in town for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, a parade of dignitaries streamed in for fittings of made-to-order shirts, dresses and suits.

Laureen Harper, the wife of Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, showed up on Friday, made a few purchases and signed the guestbook for Dang Thi Thu Thuy, the petite, exquisitely dressed owner. Ditto for Australia’s first lady, Janette Howard.

But Mrs. Thuy was searching for more. “We really hope that Mrs. Bush will come into our store,” she says. “We are waiting for her, but she hasn’t come.”

The walls of Hadong Silk are lined with giant framed photos of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came to the shop during Mr. Clinton’s visit in 2000. There is a photo of Mrs. Clinton towering over three saleswomen, another of her standing next to Mrs. Thuy, both clad in silk suits, and one upstairs of her, surrounded by Secret Service agents, perusing silk blouses.

Vu Thi Thu Huong, a saleswoman, said the shop was so excited after Mrs. Clinton left, having bought 10 raw silk shirts for her husband, that the distinctive square collar on their men’s silk shirts was renamed the “Bill Clinton Collar.”

So, will there be a “George Bush Collar”?

Mrs. Thuy shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she said. She gestured to her camera, and said, “If she comes we will take her picture, too.”

Mrs. Bush visited the Temple of Literature, a monument to the legacy of Confucius, and the Museum of Ethnology, which focuses on Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. With the spouses of other leaders, she saw water puppets. It is unclear whether she bought any silk.

Clinton in Vietnam

Just more proof Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers. At least though, the women folk got a chance to see the water puppet show. No matter what anyone says, that’s some good entertainment!

Scott, have any delegates stopped by Ipa-Nima? If so, who , and what did they buy?? Inquiring minds need to know.



No one’s watching

Canada #2 in maintaining personal privacy
KATIE FRETLAND
Canadian Press and Associated Press
Pub. Globe And Mail Oct 31

LONDON — Germany and Canada are the best defenders of privacy, and Malaysia and China the worst, an international rights group said in a report released Wednesday (Oct 31).
Britain was rated as an endemic surveillance society, at No. 33, just above Russia and Singapore on a ranking of 37 countries’ privacy protections by London-based Privacy International.
The United States did only slightly better, at No. 30, ranked between Israel and Thailand, with few safeguards and widespread surveillance, the group said.
The study ranks countries on various privacy-related issues. These include whether they have a written constitution with specific mention of privacy, the use of identity cards and biometrics, electronic surveillance including closed-circuit TV cameras, interception of communication, access of law-enforcement agencies to private data, surveillance of travel and financial transactions, and global leadership in promoting privacy.
On a scale of one to five, Canada scored three or higher in all categories.
Canada received the highest ranking of five for its legal limits on the keeping of private data….

This seems like good news for Canadians and Germans, and bad news for the citizens of world powers who like to talk about freedom and democracy but who violate and destroy the liberities of their own people.

I’m talking about you George Bush Jr., Tony Blair and Robert Mugabe.

At least regimes like Than Shwe’s in Myanmar don’t really claim to be into democracy or freedom. They are happy with their military junta and will only be removed at gunpoint. Vietnam transforms the word ‘democracy’ into meaning farmers can choose between one Communist member and another Communist member to represent them at the lowest level.
Freedom means you have the freedom not to be bombed to shit on a daily basis.

And then places like Thailand actually use tanks and soldiers to incite a situation they believe will restore democracy by wresting power from the hands of an elected tyrant. Freedom meaning, sometimes you have to have the will to take strong medicine.

That makes me think that the US could learn from Thailand… but I won’t get into that too deeply just yet.

Here’s the official rankings, some countries are tied.

Best Protectors of Civilian Privacy
1. Germany
2. Canada
3. Belgium
3. Austria
5. Greece
6. Argentina
6. Hungary
8. France
8. Poland
8. Portugal
8. Cyprus
12. Finland
13. Italy
13. Luxembourg
13. Latvia
13. Estonia
13. Malta
18. Denmark
18. Czech Republic
18. Ireland
18. Lithuania
18. New Zealand
18. Slovakia
24. Australia
24. Spain
26. Slovenia
26. Netherlands
28. Israel
28. Sweden
30. United States
31. Thailand
31. Philippines
33. Britain
34. Singapore
34. Russia
36. Malaysia
36. China



pardon my french
October 15, 2006, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Afghanistan, army, Canada, empires, freedom, News and politics, Uncategorized

rant on

I’ve been asked a few times why I’m not freelancing for Canadian/North American publications.

At first, I questioned it myself. Was it a sort of defect? Laziness? I seriously doubted it was laziness, since when I was in Vietnam I was editing the majority of a thick tourist mag as well as working for the daily paper. And here in Bangkok, I’m at the office until at the earliest 6:30 every night. I supposed I could go out on weekends and talk to people, attend the few protest rallies against the coup, etc. but to be honest I don’t have a valid work visa yet and I don’t particularly want to be expelled by the kingdom (or shot by some trigger-happy zitfaced teen soldier).

More importantly though, my issue with the “why aren’t you freelancing in the west” question is that these days it strikes me as a little bit racist. Not in the big, nasty scary racist way, but in the way that assumes that Western press is more prestigious or important. I can’t say I’ve developed much insight in my time in southeast Asia, but what I am beginning to see are the signs of a declining (American) empire and a rising ‘third world’ empire. The new power may be China, India, maybe even Japan, who knows, it could be a stark raving mad Kim Jong-il armed to the teeth with atom bombs and high heels. Whoever it is, in the next few centuries the world will belong to the east.

People may be shocked at the assertion that the west is on the decline. While the economic and capital flow eastward is a little easier to perceive, it’s the power flow that’s barely perceptible but oh so important.

For all the violence committed in the name of money, resources, political favours, all I can say is “you reap what you sow.” The damage done, by all parties and governments and armed groups since January 17, 1961, the day Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the world of linking industry and wealth with war, is scandalous plain and simple.
The rampant exploitation of land, corrupt governments, ongoing denials of basic human rights, torture and secret prisons are all landmines on any road to co-existing peacefully.

Or have we given that up as option by now?

Without peace and security, the economy can’t thrive and there will eventually be civil unrest. If nations don’t pursue peace and security as long term policies and instead work against it for gain, well, what is sown will be reaped. And sadly the victims will be innocent citizens already cheated by their governments.

Speaking of living peace to spread peace, we need Canadian troops focused on rebuilding Afghanistan’s schools, hospitals and roads, doing beneficial work while protecting the civilans. I’m all for our special ops forces doing their work wherever it sends them, but there are approximately 19,500 US soldiers in Afghanistan so why do we keep hearing about Canadians fighting and dying in the frontlines? If Canada hadn’t been willing to send troops to Afghanistan maybe it would have put another obstacle in the path of George Bush’s march to war. But that’s another issue.

rant off