A billion

The next time you hear a politician use the word “billion” casually, think about whether you want that politician spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases:

– A billion seconds ago, it was 1959.

– A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.

– A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

– A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

(received by emai)

warning

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of sexually transmitted disease.

This disease is contracted through high risk behavior, although cases have also been reported of individuals or whole families contracting it through prolonged contact with certain news media or social groups. It is called Gonorrhea Lectim (pronounced “gonna re-elect him”).

Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past 4 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease.

Cognitive sequelae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to:

Antisocial personality disorder traits;

delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor;

chronic mangling of the English language;

extreme cognitive dissonance;

inability to incorporate new information;

pronounced xenophobia;

inability to accept responsibility for actions;

exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado;

uncontrolled facial smirking;

ignorance of geography and history;

tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies;

and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or nothing behavior.

The disease is sweeping Washington. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease can have spread so widely after originating relatively recently in a Texas Bush.

(Thanks Deb!)

Una ola de preguntas

Por Juan Gelman

El terremoto convertido en maremoto/tsunami que asoló 11 países del sudeste asiático y de Africa se inició a las 00.58 GMT del domingo 26 de diciembre que pasó. La Administración Nacional (estadounidense) en materia Oceánica y Atmosférica (NOAA por sus siglas en inglés) con sede en Hawaii emitió 16 segundos después un primer comunicado sobre el fenómeno natural en el que señalaba:

a) “según los antecedentes históricos en materia de terremotos y tsunamis, no existe una amenaza de tsunami destructivo”; b) “no entra en vigor ninguna alerta o vigilancia de tsunami” (www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/olderwmsg). La NOAA evaluó inicialmente que el sismo –la cuarta catástrofe de tal alcance desde el año 1900– era de 8 grados de la escala Richter, magnitud luego corregida al alza, a 8,5 y finalmente 9 grados. A dicho organismo pertenecen los científicos que trabajan en el Centro de Alerta de Tsunamis en el Pacífico (PTWC por sus siglas en inglés) instalado en Honolulu.

El distinguido economista Michel Chossudovsky –profesor de la Universidad de Ottawa con una larga trayectoria como consultor de distintos programas de las Naciones Unidas, autor de varios libros sobre su especialidad– formula preguntas inquietantes acerca del tema en un boletín del Centro de Investigaciones sobre la Globalización, con sede en Montreal (www.globalresearch.ca, 29-12-04). “Las fuerzas armadas y el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU. (que figuran en la lista de contactos del PTWC) recibieron una alerta temprana (del terremoto). La base naval norteamericana de la isla de Diego García en el océano Indico fue notificada. ¿Por qué los pescadores de la India, Sri Lanka y Tailandia no recibieron el mismo aviso que la Marina y el Departamento de Estado de EE.UU.? ¿Por qué el Departamento de Estado silenció la existencia de una catástrofe inminente? Contando con un moderno sistema de comunicaciones, ¿por qué no salió la información? ¿Por e-mail, teléfono, fax, satélites de TV?”. El profesor concluye: “Se podría haber salvado la vida de miles de personas”. El catedrático Tad Murty, de la Universidad de Manitoba, coincidió con su colega: “No hay razones para que una sola persona muera a consecuencia de un tsunami, en la mayoría de las zonas (devastadas) hubo lapsos de 25 minutos a 4 horas antes de que la ola golpeara” (The Calgary Sun, 28-12-04).

“¿Por qué no fueron informados los gobiernos de los países del océano Indico? –insiste Michel Chossudovsky–. ¿Hubo ‘directrices’ de las fuerzas armadas o del Departamento de Estado sobre la difusión de una alerta temprana?” Entre otros países de la región, Tailandia y Singapur integran el Grupo internacional de coordinación del Sistema de alerta de tsunamis, pero sólo Indonesia –donde el fenómeno ya hacía estragos– y Australia –muy lejos del epicentro– fueron avisadas de la amenaza. Esto ha preocupado a la senadora republicana Olympia Snowe, quien “investiga por qué la NOAA fue incapaz de proporcionar a las 11 naciones afectadas esa información valiosa que hubiera salvado vidas” (The Boston Globe, 2912-04).

Las preguntas del economista no se detienen ahí, avanzan sobre aspectos no menos inquietantes. “¿Por qué luego del desastre son las Fuerzas Armadas de EE.UU., y no las organizaciones civiles humanitarias y de ayuda que trabajan bajo la égida de las Naciones Unidas, las que asumen un papel dirigente (en la ayuda norteamericana a los damnificados)?” En efecto: el teniente general de marines Rusty Blackman, jefe de la 3ª fuerza expedicionaria naval que se está desplegando desde Okinawa y ex jefe de estado mayor de las tropas que tomaron Bagdad en 2003, fue designado responsable de todas las actividades de socorro de emergencia. Tres equipos bajo su mando ya se encuentran en Tailandia, Indonesia y Sri Lanka, se enviaron a la región dos portaaviones, decenas de aviones y helicópteros y varios miles de efectivos en un despliegue sin precedenteen la materia (www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2004/n12292004_2004122905.html). Chossudovsky interroga: “¿Por qué se destina a un alto jefe militar que participó en la invasión a Irak a dirigir el programa estadounidense de ayuda de emergencia?”. Se podría agregar: ¿por qué nada menos que Colin Powell emprende una gira por la región, acompañado de Jeb Bush?

El todavía secretario de Estado norteamericano declaró en Yakarta que confiaba en que “como resultado de nuestros esfuerzos, como resultado de que los ciudadanos de Indonesia ven cómo nuestros pilotos de helicóptero los ayudan, se reforzará nuestro sistema de valores” (AP, 4-1-05). Confió en más: en que así “se secarán esos pozos de insatisfacción que podrían alimentar la actividad terrorista”. Menudos pozos de insatisfacción son para el mundo árabe y musulmán la ocupación de Afganistán en Irak, o la política de la Casa Blanca de apoyo irrestricto a Israel. Y luego: ¿ese despliegue militar estadounidense sólo procura proporcionar ayuda humanitaria, volver simpático el rostro militar de EE.UU.? ¿Las consecuencias del tsunami “ofrecen acaso una oportunidad para fortalecer la presencia del Pentágono en el sudeste asiático” (dc.ind ymedia.org, 29-12-04)? ¿Por esa razón la ayuda que la Casa Blanca ofreció a las víctimas del tsunami pasó súbitamente de 18 millones de dólares a 35 millones luego y a 350 millones por ahora? La base aérea tailandesa de Utapao, ubicada a unos 150 kilómetros al sur de Bangkok, se convertirá en un centro de comando de la mencionada fuerza expedicionaria naval de EE.UU. ¿Servirá además para avanzar en la realización del sueño imperial de los “halcones gallina”? En Utapao estacionaban los B-52 que bombardearon Vietnam del Norte. Pareciera que al teniente general Rusty Blackman no lo arredran los fantasmas.

First in Altavista and second in Yahoo

Alguien me había dicho que mi fotolog estaba quinto en google.nl, y confieso que no lo creí hasta que lo comprobé personalmente. Ahora, por medio de un comparador de buscadores, veo que en yahoo, quien tipea “marilin” en Altavista me encuentra en primer lugar, y si lo hace en Yahoo, en segundo lugar.

Por favor, noten también que mi otro fotoblog (abandonado, por cierto) está en el puesto 16 que sigue siendo considerado un high ranking

No quería hacer mucha publicidad de mis sitios, pero sí confirmarles la importancia de buscar en varios buscadores.

A bed time story

Daddy, why did we help the U.S. attack Iraq?

Because the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction.

But the UN inspectors didn`t find any weapons of mass destruction.

That`s because the Iraqis were hiding them.

And that`s why we invaded Iraq?

Yes. Invasions always work better than inspections.

But after we invaded them, we STILL haven`t found any weapons of mass destruction, have we?

That`s because the weapons are so well hidden. Don`t worry, U.S. military will find something, probably right before the 2004 election.

Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?

To use them in a war, silly.

I`m confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn`t they use any of those weapons when the U.S. and UK attacked them?

Well, obviously they didn`t want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

That doesn`t make sense. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons with which they could have fought back?

It`s a different culture. It`s not supposed to make sense.

I don`t know about you Daddy, but I don`t think they had any of those weapons you and George Bush said they did…

Well, you know, it doesn`t matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

And what was that?

Even if Iraq didn`t have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?

Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Kind of like what they do in China?

Don`t go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it`s a good country, even if that country tortures people?

Right.

Why were people in Iraq being tortured?

For political crimes, mostly, like criticising the government. People who criticised the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Isn`t that exactly what happens in China?

I told you, China is different.

What`s the difference between China and Iraq?

Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba`ath party, while China is Communist.

Didn`t you once tell me Communists were bad?

No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

How are the Cuban Communists bad?

Well, for one thing, people who criticise the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Like in Iraq?

Exactly.

And like in China, too?

I told you, China`s a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

How come Cuba isn`t a good economic competitor?

Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, the U.S. government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being capitalists like us.

But if the U.S. got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn`t that help the Cubans become capitalists?

Don`t be a smart-arse.

I didn`t think I was being one.

Well, anyway, they also don`t have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?

I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he`s not really a legitimate leader anyway.

What`s a military coup?

That`s when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do and they do in the United States.

Didn`t the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?

You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?

I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Didn`t you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?

Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped the U.S. invade Afghanistan.

Why did the Americans invade Afghanistan?

Because of what they did to the U.S. on September 11th 2001

What did Afghanistan do to the U.S. on September 11th?

Well, on September 11th, nineteen men-fifteen of them Saudi Arabians-hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings in New York and Washington, killing 3,000 innocent people.

So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?

Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Aren`t the Taliban those bad radical Islamises who chopped off people`s heads and hands?

Yes, that`s exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people`s heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Didn`t the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million U.S. dollars back in May of 2001?

Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Fighting drugs?

Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

How did they do such a good job?

Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

So, when the Taliban cut off people`s heads and hands for growing flowers, that was Okay, but not if they cut people`s heads and hands off for other reasons?

Yes. It`s Okay with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people`s hands for growing flowers, but it`s cruel if they cut off people`s hands for stealing bread.

Don`t they also cut off people`s hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?

That`s different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Don`t Saudi women have to wear Burqas in public, too?

No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

What`s the difference?

The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman`s body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman`s body except for her eyes and fingers.

It sounds like the same thing with a different name.

Now, don`t go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia?

Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Who trained them?

A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Was he from Afghanistan?

Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he is a bad man, a very bad man.

I seem to recall he was our friend once.

Only when the U.S. helped him and the Mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?

There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like the U.S. and UK. We call them Russians now.

So the Soviets – I mean, the Russians-are now our friends?

Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we`re mad at them now. We`re also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn`t help us invade Iraq either.

So the French and Germans are evil, too?

Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that the Americans had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Do the Americans always rename foods whenever another country doesn`t do what they want them to do?

No, they just do that to our friends. Our enemies, they invade.

But wasn`t Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?

Well, yeah. For a while.

Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?

Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

Why did that make him our friend?

Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Isn`t that when he gassed the Kurds?

Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, the Americans and we looked the other way, to show him we were his friends.

So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?

Most of the time, yes!

And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?

Sometimes that`s true, too. However, if American and British corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Why?

Because war is good for both our economies, which means war is good for America and the UK. Also, since God is on America`s side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we helped America attack Iraq?

I think so. We attacked them because God wanted the U.S. to, right?

Yes.

But how did America know God wanted the U.S. to attack Iraq?

Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

So basically, what you`re saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?

Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

Good night, Daddy.

(A bed time story, going around by e-mails)

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