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Candide’s Latest: Friday, September 15, 2006
"The Great Equalizer"

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They’re all reporting on Killer Gil’s blood-soaked blog and his VampireFreaks.com account following the rampage at a Montreal campus that left one student dead and led to the shooting of Kimveer Gill himself, by police. (“ The website's administrators have taken down his listing,” the UK Times reports, “leaving a note on the site that reads that the user nicknamed Trench "has been deleted by VF admin". A cached version of the webpage shows a tombstone with the name "Kimveer'' on it.) Some of his words: “World sucks...School sucks...Life sucks...What else can I say.” “It's everyone's fault for being so apathetic towards fucking everything that doesn't affect them personally.” “I love guns. I really do. The great equalizer...wouldn't you say?” “Fuck the world and everything in it.” “The police are watching me. They actually think I don't know this. They are monitering (sic) my movements.” But how terribly unusual is that? Idiocy itself runs rampant. On blogs and elsewhere. The Columbine diaries of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were similarly unspectacular in their conventional hatred of the world and lust for guns. The question isn’t why they write material like that, but that when they do, and so prolifically, how is it possible that those living around them aren’t aware? As Susan Sontag wrote in hers, “One of the main (social) functions of a journal or diary is precisely to be read furtively by other people, the people (like parents + lovers) about whom one has been cruelly honest only in the journal.” You don’t even need to go that far. It isn’t only in one’s journal that one writes one’s inner thoughts, but on one’s face, in one’s daily actions. Meanwhile at VampireFreaks, we find this: “i do think this event is a tragedy, but i feel that this site is wrongly being associated with the shooting. i'm sure this kid also had accounts on various other sites, but the media likes to associate crimes with gothic culture because it makes a better story for them. so, i just want to ask our members to really try to set a good example to the world, to show that we really are caring, responsible, non-violent people.”

 

Finally, a glimmer of backbone from Colin Powell: “Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell came out in opposition today to White House-sponsored legislation to create special military commissions that would try terrorist suspects, saying he rejects efforts to "redefine" a key provision of the Geneva Conventions,” the Post reports. “In defiance of the White House, Warner's committee approved the alternative bill this afternoon by a 15-9 vote, setting up a possible showdown with the Senate's Republican leadership. Warner, McCain, Graham and fellow Republican Susan M. Collins of Maine joined the committee's 11 Democrats in voting for the measure, which Bush today vowed to "resist" on grounds it would effectively scuttle a "terrorist detainee program" run by the CIA.”

The Powell letter:

[A larger version of the letter appears here]

 

On the Strange Death of American Liberalism: “Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?” Tony Judt asks in the current issue of the London Review of Books. He blames disillusionment with the 1960s, an inept Democratic Party, Bill Clinton’s “triangulations” in domestic policy in the 1990s, and a realignment of old-style libela intellectuals around their new cause—the defeat of so-called “Islamo-fascism.” The piece is a depressing who’s who of fallen liberals, fallen to the pieties of the most reductive, simplistic Bush administration narrative about the good-versus-evil battle that the terror war represents. “In today’s America, neo-conservatives generate brutish policies for which liberals provide the ethical fig-leaf. There really is no other difference between them.”

It’s not a clash of civilizations. It’s a Geo-Civil War. “It is not a “clash of civilizations,” since the conflict rages among Muslims as much as between radical Islamism and the West,” writes John Brenkman in YaleGlobal. “It is not, however, merely a “civil war” within Islam between moderates and radicals, since the conflict entails potentially cataclysmic fighting among Muslim nations and also implicates Western countries as well as Israel. It is not simply “global terrorism,” since Al Qaeda and associated groups are but one source of extremism and violence. Nor is it simply Islamism versus the rest, since the most virulent forms flower on both the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam and are antagonistic toward each other. In short, the upheavals in the Muslim world today are at once civil and geopolitical. The geopolitical conflicts can erupt into religious war; religious conflicts can escalate into civil war; civil wars can overflow borders and become geopolitical. This protean conflict should be called what it is: geo-civil war.

A Visit With a Man Wrongly Detained at Guantanamo: “Murat Kurnaz was detained in the United States detention camp at Guantánamo, Cuba, for almost five years and released three weeks ago. Cem Özdemir, a member of the European Parliament, visited Kurnaz at his home in Bremen and reports back about a German man of Turkish origin who appears to be anything but a fanatic.” From Der Spiegel.

In Other Worlds

In case you’re among the global warming skeptics: “Two separate studies by Nasa, using different satellite monitoring technologies, both show a great surge in the disappearance of Arctic ice cover in the last two years,” the UK Independent reports. “One, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, shows that Arctic perennial sea ice, which normally survives the summer melt season and remains year-round, shrank by 14 per cent in just 12 months between 2004 and 2005. “The overall decrease in the ice cover was 720,000 sq km (280,000 sq miles) - an area almost the size of Turkey, gone in a single yearThe other study, from the Goddard Space Flight Centre, in Maryland, shows that the perennial ice melting rate, which has averaged 0.15 per cent a year since satellite observations began in 1979, has suddenly accelerated hugely. In the past two winters the rate has increased to six per cent a year - that is, it has got more than 30 times faster.” The full melt…

Palestinian rappers? No joke. Dateline, Gaza. “ Rapper D.R. (Dynamic Rapper) enters an upscale restaurant in the city center in the early afternoon. A beautiful young American woman named Jackie escorts him to the table and sits with him. He is full of smiles and high-fives, and his black eyes peek out above the rims of his fashionable sunglasses. Everyone here knows him. He is very skinny, wears a sleeveless shirt and low-riding Bermudas that look like they could fall down at any moment; on his head is a red baseball cap over a hairnet, not unlike rapper 50 Cent - and on his feet are sneakers, obviously. "I don't want to imitate the Americans; I'm a proud Palestinian," says D.R., a.k.a. Mohammed al-Faraa. The place: Gaza City . The restaurant - Ma'atuk, on Omar al-Mukhtar street, next to the Hezbollah support tent set up by Islamic Jihad.” See the full story from Haaretz.

State censorship by way of prior restraint in South Africa: “The Mail & Guardian was interdicted from publishing a major story on Thursday when Maanda Manyatshe, the boss of cellphone giant MTN South Africa, applied for an interim interdict in the Johannesburg High Court to prevent its publication. After a request from Manyatshe's lawyers, Judge Mohammed Jajbhay granted the applicants more time to respond to the M&G's answering affidavit. This put the matter beyond the paper's print deadline meaning that the story could not be published.”

Report: Majority of Americans Unprepared for the Apocalypse.

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