Flotsam & Jetsam
Jo Wilding and Crew Take a Circus to Iraq, Dismay at Enola Gay Display, The Sweet Taste of Victory, Greenland's Ice (and Earth's Global Cities) Are 'Doomed', and more...
April 26, 2004
Jo Wilding and Crew Take a Circus to Iraq
|Peace activist, journalist and circus clown Jo Wliding (left) with co-clown Peat entertain children in a tour of Circus2Iraw.|
Marching boldly under the banner "Circus2Iraq," a motley crew of performers and activists donned red rubber noses and set of for Iraq to perform circus stunts and teach the local kids circus skills.
Why? "During the  war," British activist and Circus2Iraq crowd-pleaser Jo Wilding recalls from her days on the ground during the US bombing of Baghdad, "one of the most powerful things was playfulness when the bombs were falling -- a birthday party, a football game, singing, blowing bubbles."
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 31, recognizes: 'the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.'
Wilding recalls a four-year-old boy named Mohammed who was hurt in the bombing of the farmhouse at Diyala, near Baghdad:
"A lad called Shane from the US sat down next to his bed the day after it happened and drew pictures and blew bubbles. When Mohammed put out his hand and popped the bubble, he smiled for the first time since the bomb destroyed his home and killed his sister and his aunt. It was inspiring to see that healing and peace making were still possible between two boys from countries that were ostensibly enemies.
"People are traumatized, tired and worn down by years of war and sanctions and are still without many basic necessities, despite the obligations of the occupying powers to provide humanitarian items. We're not aid workers and, in any case, Iraq is a wealthy country which doesn't need charity. We think the best thing we can do is bring a bit of color, a bit of normality, a bit of playfulness and make people smile."
In addition to Wilding, who was in Iraq during the bombing as a humanitarian observer, other Circus2Iraq members have done international solidarity work all over the world. Some have been involved with circuses or other performances that have visited Bosnia, Serbia and East Timor.
How You Can Help: Anyone with skills, experience, donations or ideas to offer is welcome to get in touch. Please be sure to include the word 'Circus' in the subject line. Contact: Website at www.circus2iraq.com. Email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dismay at Display
The centerpiece of the Dulles Airport's new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the Enola Gay, the B-29 bomber that released the nuclear weapon that destroyed Hiroshima and 80,000 of its inhabitants.
This decision raises the question: Isn't this a bit like a major German train station opening a museum displayed a facsimile of an Auschwitz gas chamber?
The Sweet Taste of Victory?
|MoveOn.org got things cooking all the way across the US with a one-day, do-it-yourself bake sale that raised $750,000. Credit: www.aestheticdesign.com / The-Edge|
An enduring bumpersticker from the 1960's asked the question: "Wouldn't it be a great day if the schools had all the money they needed and the Pentagon had to hold a bake sale to build a bomber?"
That day isn't here yet so, the ever-innovative MoveOn.org community has come up with the next best thing.
On April 17, from Lincoln City, OR to Kent, OH to Peaks Island, ME, MoveOn members hosted more than 1,000 bake sales to raise some dough to help MoveOn PAC run ads and get out the vote this November to support John Kerry.
As frequently happens with MoveOn.org's wiggy notions, this one took off like popcorn over a campfire. More than 11,000 bakers signed on, coming up with some clever slogans in the bargain. Here's a sampler:
Beat Bush Bake Bash (Los Angeles, CA), Mountaineer Bake Sale for Democracy (Charleston, WV), Cheekypotato's Home-made Aussie Cookies, Cakes, Pizzas & Calzones for Democracy (Phoenix, AZ), No CARB (Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Bush) Bake Sale (Seattle, WA), Have Your Cake and Beat Bush II (Storrs, CT), Sweet Eating, Bush Beating (Brooklyn, NY), Hippies against Hoodlums (HAH!) (Boulder, CO), Afternoon Tea for Democracy (Princeton, NJ), Goodies for Good (Davie, FL).
For more information on the cookie crusade, contact:
Greenland's Ice (and Earth's Coastal Cities) Are 'Doomed'
(April 7, 2004) A report in the science journal Nature forecasts an 8 C increase in Greenland's temperature by 2350. If the Greenland ice cap melts, sea levels around the world will rise by about 7 metres (nearly 23 feet). Even if global warming was halted, the article warns, the rise could be irreversible.
The researchers estimated that Greenland is likely to pass a threshold of warming beyond which the ice-sheet cannot be sustained unless much greater reductions are made in emissions of greenhouse gases. Over the next 350 years, global warming stresses exceeded the critical threshold in 34 out of 35 model calculations they performed.
Greenland's average temperature only needs to increase by 3 C to melt its ice-sheet, but some of the predictions forecast a much higher rise by the year 2350. With the ice-sheet gone, Greenland would become much hotter." Tentative evidence suggests the icesheet has already to started to melt. "It's quite possible that Greenland is already making a slight contribution to global sea levels," says Dr Gregory.
Before industrialization, the atmosphere contained 280 parts per million (ppm) of CO2. At present it stands at 370 ppm. The study in Nature considered scenarios in which the CO2 is stabilized at 450, 550, 650, 750 and 1,000ppm.
The only international agreement on cutting greenhouse gases is the UN's Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrial countries to make a small cut in global emissions by a timeframe of 2008-12. It still needs ratification by Russia to take effect. Meanwhile, it remains ignored by the US, the world's biggest CO2 contributor.
Outsourcing the Elderly
The number of elderly Japanese is expected to rise from 19 percent to 36 percent by mid-century. Caretaking for such large numbers of frail and aging citizens threatens to become a major financial burden, not only for Japan, but for most of the world's governments. Bringing in low-paid foreigners to care for the elderly is one approach but this strategy runs up against domestic labor unions.
The March 4 New York Times reports that some Japanese politicians, caught between high labor costs and anti-immigrant fears, "have even suggested exporting some of Japan's elderly to Thailand and the Philippines." If "outsourcing the elderly" seems a bit cold-hearted, the Japanese may have come up with an alternative: robots.
While undeniably cold-hearted, home-care robots promise to solve the problem of labor costs. The Japan Robot Association predicts that the market for domestic robots will rise from today's $4 billion to $40 billion by 2025.
Contrition vs. Perdition: Better Late than Never?
In the docudrama, The Fog of War, Former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara reflects on his role in planning the firebombing of Toyko during WWII. The resulting firestorms turned the city into an inferno that incinerated an estimated 83,000 innocent civilians.
"There's a definition of what's legally acceptable in war," McNamara declared. "It's the basis for the war crimes element of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. I don't know whether the Tokyo firebombing in March of 1945 was thought to be illegal at the time. I doubt it. It was similar to what was done at Dresden and Hamburgn and so on. Today, I think it would certainly be considered illegal. Today, I think (the United States;) nuclear policy would be declared illegal from what I heard the president of the International Criminal Court state."
In a San Francisco Chronicle article by Jonathan Curiel, former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg expressed astonishment at McNamara's disclosure. "It was amazing to discover that he work on the planning for the greatest massacre in human history -- the March 9-10, 1945 firebombing of Tokyo. It was larger in terms of numbers of people immediately killed than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki."
Is Your Boss a Psycho? Here's the Test!
The Corporation, a blockbuster Canadian documentary, makes the case that corporations are clinically psychopathic. Writing in the Vancouver Sun, reporter David Hogben notes that "the world of the unfeeling psychopaths is not limited to the popular images of monsters who steal people's children, kill without remorse or plunder pension funds for personal pleasure."
According to corporate psychologist Paul Babiak (whose book inspired the film) and the University of BC's Robert Hare, a professor emeritus in psychology, psychopathic managers [are] increasingly attracted to the fast-paced business world."
The world owes a debt to Babiak and Hare for developing a 107-question guide for determining whether your boss is a psychopath in a seer-sucker suit.
Here are some major traits to look for in executive behavior:
1. Comes across as smooth, polished and charming.
2. Turns most conversations around to a discussion of him or herself.
3. Discredits, puts down others in order to build up own image and reputation.
4. Lies to coworkers, customers, or business associates with a straight face.
5. Considers people he or she has outsmarted or manipulated as dumb or stupid.
6. Opportunistic; hates to lose, plays ruthlessly to win.
7. Comes across as cold and calculating.
8. Acts in an unethical or dishonest manner.
9. Has created a power network in the organization and uses it for personal gain.
10. Shows no regret for making decisions that negatively affect the company, shareholders, or employees.
For more information contact: