World Cup 2006

So it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here and I can’t say I’ve got a good reason…..but the World Cup season is upon is here in the Plateau and Mile-End districts, and it’s as good a time for me to start writing about something. So here it goes…

For the 12 years I lived on the Main just below Rachel, I managed to experience 3 World Cups and always loved that I lived in Montreal’s soccer central. There’s just nothing like a World Cup tournament in this part of the city. There’s every nationality under the sun which means it’s always fun to watch a match. This tournament marks the first time I’ll be spending my time in the Mile-End instead of the lower Plateau, and things are off to a great start. The Germany v. Costa Rica match is the best opening match I’ve ever seen, even surpassing the Scotland v. Brazil match of 1998.

This edition’s HQ will be Cafe Olympico on St. Viateur. They’ve got a great setup for smokers and non-smokers alike, with a completely covered terasse area and a decent T.V. Inside, they’ve added a projection screen to their already substantial collection of TVs. So I’m set up! I can enjoy the best coffee in town with a smoke while watching the world’s greatest sporting spectacle.

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The Official 9/11 Story – The Biggest Lie

I’d direct anyone who is interested in knowing what did and didn’t happen on 9-11 to 9-11 Research. I found this site last year and it remains the most thorough, dispassionate analysis of 9-11 on the ‘Net, covering what is known and what isn’t in great detail. You can only draw one conclusion after reading through the material on this site, but that can take some time.

It might be easier to read Muslims Suspend Laws of Physics, and if you really want to get it right, Muslims Suspend Laws of Physics Part II. If you care to read these articles and still think what every good American and Canadian thinks, then, well…..I don’t know.

But if you don’t care to read the above article, I’d understand. I know from experience that at times, ignorance really is bliss. Sometimes it’s just better to be ignorant about certain things, especially when you can’t really do anything about them.

But you have to admire physics professor Steven E. Jones of that bastion of American Radicalism, Brigham Young University. He has decided to do something about it. He has presented a paper entitled Why Indeed did the WTC Buildings Collapse? that will be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal early next year. The paper is rather long, but a could good summing up can be found here..

9-11 was surreal in more ways than I realized.

Fifth Estate on 9/11

Thankfully, Canada still has the CBC, much to the chagrin of those Canadian wannabe Americans who think only the likes of Bell (CTV) and Can-West (Global) and other free market approved organizations can give us real news. I’ll have to say that while CBC News is not perfect, its probably the most honest news reporting network north of the Mexican border. I mean, where else could we see Afghan Massacre – Convoy of Death, a film few people in North America have ever seen that documents a gruesome massacre that took place with the implicit approval of US Special Forces. Certainly not on Can-West or CTV. It’s not what we’re told, it’s what we’re not told. This is the sad reality of the state of news media.

At any rate, this evening’s season premiere of the Fifth Estate takes a look at all these little factoids most people never here of about 9-11 in “Conspiracy Theories”. They may not all add up to conspiracy, but they should certainly give us pause for thought. There are so many unanswered questions to well established but little known facts both before and after 9-11. I personally doubt that the criminal gang known as the Bush Administration could have orchestrated that tragedy, however it has to be said that it was a dream come true for them. No single group has reaped more benefits from this event than than the Bush Gang.

Those of us who have read alternate news sources in the past couple of years have known about most of these factoids – the long standing connections between the Bush family, the Bin Ladens, and the Carlyle Group, the way the Bin Ladens still in the US after 9-11 were quietly put on a private jet with not a single question ever asked of them. Check out Follow the Money Bush: 9/11 and Deep Threat. And watch “Conspiracy Theories” on the Fifth Estate.

Only in Canada……

World’s Greatest Reindeer Drive

It’s fairly rare I spend a Thursday evening in, but last night it was just the ticket. Good thing, too, or I would have missed the The Herd, a true Canadian story of the “world’s greatest reindeer drive”. It’s hard for most of us to imagine what it would be like to drive 3,000 reindeer for 1500 miles from Buckland, Alaska to the Mackenzie River area of the Northwest Territories, but this film does a great job of recreating it. 62 year-old Andy Bahr, described by one of the characters as “the world’s best reindeer man”, began the trek on Dec 26, 1929 and was supposed to reach his destination with his crew and herd 18 months later. Six years later, he made it and was only 1 reindeer short of 3,000. The trials and tribulations of this massive undertaking were chronicled in Bahr’s journals, which are really the focul point of the story.

To give as an idea of what kind of conditions the herdsmen and the herds were subjected to, the filmakers give us an aerial view of the journey, showing us at once how awe-inspiring and forbidding the Arctic landscape can be, and use descendants of the original herd along to show their movements. They also use stand-in actors to recreate some typical scenes, but they don’t talk and instead journal entries from Bahr and a couple of his men are read by actors. Bahr’s journal entries are read by Graham Greene, and they are probably the best part.

Imagine that after a year of travelling the route from Alaska to the Yukon, they only managed to cover 200 miles, and had another 1300 miles to go before reaching their destination. They experienced 6 brutally cold arctic entries, often very low on supplies like food and wood. I watched this film and was completely engaged by the visuals and the voiced-over journal and letter readings.

This is a documentary film, but the director uses some dramatic re-enactments at times which may put this in that grey area called the Docu-drama. But this is really a straight-forward documentary account of what must be one of the greatest achievements of any herdsman. These guys who went to the North Pole first are famous, but for me the story of the directed movement of a herd of reindeer accross the Arctic spanning 6 years is simply one of the best stories of human achievment and endurance I’ve ever had the pleasure of “watching”.

If you get a chance to see this, do yourself a favour and watch “The Herd”

September 11 for Chile and New York

We’re not going to be getting away with forgetting what this day now means to people the world over. But before delving into the more recent 9-11, I’d just like to draw attention for a minute to what happened on “9-11-1973” in Chile. The first I heard about this was in my Sec V World history class with Miss Eckers (MCMHS 1982-83). Somehow I doubt if American students my age had ever heard about this, let alone known that their government at the time orchestrated a coup to oust a democratically elected President Allende. That’s what we learned then, long before the documents relating to the coup were de-classfied. As an angry and politically left-leaning 17 year old at the time, I saw this as proof the US were not a whole lot better than their Soviet counterparts. As far as I was concerned, if the US was capable of orchestrating such an event, which led to the deaths of thousands of Chileans and even some foreign nationals, then how could they have the moral upperhand on the evil Soviet Empire? This event was a tragedy and remains a moment of shame in the history of the US. Of course, adding insult to injury is they installed General Agusto Pinochet, a brutal dictator if ever there was one. What does it say about our lovers of “Freedom” and “Democracy” when they depose ademocratically elected leader and put in its place a brutal dictator? Just what one would think: the US really didn’t want a democracy in Chile if the felt their commercial interests would be compromised.

Though it wasn’t the first time the US has orchestrated the overthrow of a democratically elected government. All the Shahs Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror , a book I haven’t read yet, but was introduced to via an a fascinating interview on Democracy Now. Turns out Iran in August 1953 was the first time the US overthrew a democratically elected government, and this has had huge implications for the Middle East as a whole, and is probably responsible for the rise of fundamentalism in Iran which led to the ’79 Revolution. Again, the message was pretty clear. If US interests are threatened (ie, oil), we will not tolerate the will of the Iranian people and will install a dictatorship. As author Stephen Kinzer puts it:

“[i]t is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax [the name of the coup] through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.”

Which brings us to that tragic day 2 years ago, a day we will not soon forget. Taking politics out of it for a moment, lest anyone think I’m “for the terrorists” (there was a lot of that going in the weeks and months that followed that fateful day), my view is that this is as barbaric an act as it gets. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has made so many foreign policy blunders, that it’s hard to imagine that 2 years ago today the US had the sympathy of the world, whereas today most of the world hates or is actually scared of what the US has become. They’ve also stonewalled the commission investigating the attacks. Farcically, Henry Kissenger was first appointed as head of this commission, but had to refuse when it turned out he’d have to disclose any conflice of interest. Then, oddly, they appointed former New Jersey governor Thom Kean, who actually has business ties to Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law. Crazy, and it’s no wonder some families of the victims are crying foul.

To end this rant, and remember what a tragic day this was, here’s the most famous photo you’ve never seen. Horrible…..


Ric Burns’ History of the WTC

A real treat last night on PBS, a network I haven’t had access to in 11 years, but thankfully managed to get access to last night at a neighbour’s flat to watch Episode 8 of Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary Film. I thought it was going to be an hour, but if I had known that its conception and construction were as epic as it’s destruction was tragic I would have known better. This was as riveting as historical documentaries get, rivaling in scope the work of Ric’s brother Ken, of “Civil War” and “Baseball” fame.

There’s a great story on the film at the Twin Cities Pioneer Press with a quote form Ric Burns which I think says it all about the WTC:

“It was quite literally the most massive projection of economic power anywhere in the world after World War II,” Burns said. “In it, you see all the same forces that reshaped the world, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Marshall Plan. It was connected at the start, in 1946, to that tremendous projection of world power.”

That Al-Queda would have chosen the WTC as a target for their most ambitious terrorist attack comes as no surprise. It stood for everything they despise about the US.

I have to get this on DVD.