Sunday, January 02, 2005

So Long, Good Riddance, 2004; Year of the Hemorrhoid

Well 2004 has drawn to a close and 2005 is before us. This was flat out a horrible year for the world. I started to think that I would write a Year 2004, a year in review. Big Ell suggested a top ten list which had expanded to 25 after we had thought about it for a few minutes. We didn’t get all of them, I’m sure, and it was such a wholly tragic year that it’s only natural that we missed something. On the whole, I feel that even though we may have forgotten about some things, the list as it stands is certainly depressing enough. It’s not easy to put any of this chaos in any proper order so I have presented it with similar horrors grouped together but in no particular worst to most worst order.

Here is the list of top 25 Horrible occurrences of 2004

1. The Occupation of Iraq
2. The Siege of Fallujah
3. The Abu Graib Prison Scandal
4. The Second Intifada
5. The Israeli Wall
6. The Beslan School Bombing
7. The Madrid Bombings
8. The Dalfour Genocide
9. Liberian Civil War
10. Arastide Kidnapped/Invasion of Haiti
11. French Schools ban Muslim Headscarves
12. Arafat’s Death
13. The Reagan State Funerals
14. Celebrity Deaths: in 2004 included Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Joel Strummer, Johnny Ramone Julia Child, Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan, Rodney Dangerfield, Tony Randall, Marlon Brando and Fay Wray(who was the love interest in King Kong.) And Jerry Orbach from Law and Order died on December 29th.
15. The US “Election”
16. The Sham Elections in Afghanistan
17. The Australian Election
18. The Taiwanese Elections
19. The Ukrainian Election
20. Klein wins another mandate in Alberta
21. Governor Swartzenegger
22. 26 million Africans have HIV/AIDS
23. Typhoons
24. Hurricanes
25. Earthquakes and Tsunamis



Criminal Foreign/Domestic Policies (1-11)

1. The Occupation of Iraq: The ongoing occupation of Iraq by Imperialist American Forces has brought over a thousand US deaths this year.

Oh, and what has been estimated by the John Hopkins University to be over a hundred thousand Iraqi deaths since the beginning of the war to the report's release in October.

One funny thing about that is that when this story appeared in the Guardian on the 28th it said that the incidence of death in Iraq was 58 times higher after the war than before but the NYT seems to have gotten mixed up reporting on the 29th that,
Using what they described as the best sampling methods that could be applied under the circumstances, they found that Iraqis were 2.5 times more likely to die in the 17 months following the invasion than in the 14 months before it.

I don't know how 58 times higher on Thursday became 2.5 times higher on Friday but the Times must have its own reasons for butchering history.

2. Fallujah: The Hopkins study did not include Fallujah within its calculations and said the fighting there was too intense. Fallujah has been a wonderful example of collective punishment. The citizens who were still alive returned recently and weren't very happy about they returned to.

3. The Abu Graib Prison Scandal: The true horror, besides the obvious, with the Abu Graib Prison Scandal and other prison scandals in Iraq and all of other torture news, is that the US Government and the Military are asking us to believe that the whole thing boils down to a couple of bad apples in a barrel of white hats and the media hasn't even found the balls to laugh at them.

4. The Second Intifada: The Second Intifada started by that criminal Sharon September 29th, 2000. This year saw the fourth anniversary of a spate of violence that has taken the lives of 3514 Palestinians and 949 Israelis.

5. The Israeli Apartheid Wall: The Israelis new "security" fence is just plain awful. The Israeli Apartheid Wall Webpage says,
In some places, it is a multilayered barbed wire and electronic fence system 30 to 100 meters wide with patrol roads and ditches and no-man's land. In other places, it is a 24 foot tall concrete wall complete with guard towers and patrol roads and no-man's land. Most of the wall's route in Stage 1 is located within the Palestinian West Bank. As a result, the wall along this part of the route will infringe the human rights of more than 210,000 Palestinians who live in 67 towns and villages: 13 communities, containing 11,700 residents, will become enclaves trapped between the wall and the Green Line; the wall's winding route and the additional wall (the depth barrier) east of the separation wall will turn 19 other villages, in which 128,500 Palestinians live, into enclaves; 36 villages situated east of the separation wall or depth barrier, containing 72,200 residents, will be separated from a substantial part of their farmland, which lies west of the walls.

6. The Beslan School Bombing: On September 1st dozens of Islamic militants hijacked a school in Southern Russia and held 1200 people hostage. 330 people died and 172 were children. They recently cancelled Christmas and New Years, for the first time in years no Christmas tree was erected in the town square. Probably nobody wants to hear about how the Russians have in recent years in Chechnya have claimed between 30 000 and 180 000 folks, and I'm sure a number of them were tykes too. But it's nothing new, in the late 1800s Russians killed over 70 000 and Stalin killed 500 000 and deported as many again. I guess the Chechnyans are used to dying.

7. The Madrid Bombings: The Wikipedia says The 11 March 2004 Madrid attacks (also known as 3/11 ) were a series of coordinated terrorist bombings against the commuter train system of Madrid, Spain on the morning of 11 March 2004, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.


8. The Dalfour Genocide: The RandomBytes blog stated that, "Since 1983, the war and war- and famine-related effects have led to more than 2 million deaths and over 4 million people displaced. Life expectancy for the Sudanese is only 58 years." and went on to quote from the Sudan: Passion of the Present Page


In Darfur, a region in southern Sudan approximately the size of Texas, over a million people are threatened with torture and death at the hands of marauding militia and a complicit government. Imagine a militia that forces parents to choose whether their children will be burned alive or shot to death. Imagine that in the very same month the world remembers the genocides of Cambodia and Rwanda, the unfolding news of another in Sudan is barely heard and largely ignored.

Several independent observers estimate that between 500 and 2,500 people are killed by the government-backed militia in Darfour every day. The And if that's not enough Lansana Gberie wrote how in March 2004, demonstrators calling for concrete progress in the peace process were shot at in the city: the UN said that 120 people were killed in several days of clashes with the security forces, and that the clampdown had been "carefully planned and executed" and was ordered from "the highest state authorities."

9. Liberian Civil War: The International Rescue Commitee
stated that,
Fourteen years of intermittent civil war resulted in a quarter of a million deaths, one million internally displaced persons and 500,000 refugees. These numbers, when juxtaposed with the tiny Liberian population of just over three million, are staggering. Fifteen months after the signing of a peace agreement, approximately 450,000 Liberians remain displaced, more than 100,000 ex-combatants have disarmed and the United Nations maintains the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.


10. Arastide Kidnapped/Occupation of Haiti: oOn February 29th, the American Marines that were supposed protect Arastide kidnap him and fly him to the Central African Republic. Meanwhile US, French and Canadian Forces hit the beaches to protect the people who are couping out the democratically elected leader? As Paul Martin would point out later, "That little French guy was going to mess up all our sweatshop profits from Port au Prince t-shirts."

11. French Public Schools ban Muslim Headscarves on Women: The ban on muslim headscarves and other religious accesories went into effect during the seige of Beslan.


Public Deaths (12 – 14)

12. Arafat’s Death: This nearly didn't make the list because Arafat was such a corrupt little bastard and if he had been less corrupt the Palestinians might not be in such a sorry state. But the distinct possibility that he was poisoned by the Mossad while undergoing medical treatment in France in order to further weaken the Palestinian people puts him at the beginning of our public deaths section.

13. The Reagan State Funerals: Reagan died too but I don’t think that even rates worth mentioning. He was given a hero’s funeral, or four of them and senile or not, he should have been tried for war crimes for what his administration allowed to past in Central America, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He also should have been flayed for what he did to the American worker’s rights and the rapid acceleration of the corporation’s control over everyday things.

14. Celebrity Deaths: in 2004 included Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Joel Strummer, Johnny Ramone Julia Child, Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan, Rodney Dangerfield, Tony Randall, Marlon Brando and Fay Wray(who was the love interest in King Kong.)

Elections (15 - 21)

15. The US “Election”

16. The Sham Elections in Afghanistan

17. The Australian Election

18. The Taiwanese Elections

19. The Ukrainian Election

20. Ralph Klein wins in Alberta

21. Governor Swartzenegger

Big Ell says, “Bad year for Democracy.”

Weather and Disease (22 -25)

22. 26 Million Africans have HIV/AIDS: In October the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks put out a report on AIDS in Africa that said,
The UN estimates that some 26 million people in Africa are living with HIV/AIDS, and 2.2 million have already died of AIDS-related illnesses.

At the top of the report in brackets it said,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Just in case anyone was reading...

23. Typhoons: The Japanese Weather Bureau said that 30 tropical storms formed in the Pacific. Thousands killed this summer across Asia. Whole towns gone in mudslides and washed out to sea.

24. Hurricanes: The national Hurricane Center in Miami Florida put out a summary for tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico which states that 15 tropical storms formed in the 2004 season, nine became hurricanes while six became major hurricanes, causing over three thousand deaths,
SIX HURRICANES... ALEX, CHARLEY, FRANCES, GASTON, IVAN AND JEANNE STRUCK THE UNITED STATES IN 2004. THREE TROPICAL STORMS ALSO HIT THE UNITED STATES. CHARLEY ALSO HIT WESTERN CUBA...WHILE FRANCES AND JEANNE ALSO HIT THE BAHAMAS...ALL AS MAJOR HURRICANES. IVAN HIT GRENADA AND HAD SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON JAMAICA...GRAND CAYMAN...AND WESTERN CUBA. JEANNE ALSO HIT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AS A HURRICANE AND PUERTO RICO AS A STRONG TROPICAL STORM.
ATLANTIC TROPICAL CYCLONES WERE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE THAN 3000 DEATHS IN 2004. THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE WERE IN HAITI DUE TO RAINS FROM JEANNE. UNADJUSTED PROPERTY DAMAGE IN THE U.S. IS ESTIMATED AT MORE THAN 42 BILLION DOLLARS...MAKING 2004 THE COSTLIEST HURRICANE SEASON ON RECORD. CHARLEY IS THE SECOND COSTLIEST U. S. HURRICANE ON RECORD...WHILE IVAN IS THE THIRD COSTLIEST.

25. Earthquakes and Tsunamis: There were three major earthquakes this year. On February 24th a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Morocco killed over 600 and injured nearly a thousand. On October 23rd a 6.3 magnitude quake hit Japan killing 40 and injuring over three thousand. Then, just before the year ends, on Boxing Day, a 9.0 magnitude quake occurs off the coast of Sumatra. The quake and ensuing tsunamis take the lives of at least a hundred and fifty thousand people at the time of writing, but the number has been steadily growing for the last week.

Silver Linings

1. Spanish Election: Zapateri and the Socialists managed to crush the ruling Conservative party and Mariano Rajoy who was in line to be one of Bush's little regional Mussolinis, won't get his chance. Many said the Madrid bombings were the sole reason for the defeat but remember Azner had sent Spanish troops to Iraq at the behest of King George and against the express wishes of over ninety percent of the population of Spain.

2. Taiwanese Presidential Election: The Taiwan elections show up in this year's bad list but also here again on the silver linings list because in the end our man Chen beat out those two weird little lunatics, Chan and Soong.

3. Canadian Election: What's the good news about electing the Canadian Robber Baron equivalent of a Nazi war criminal? Well at least it's a minority government with the NDP riding sidecar. That might cut down on the Liberal gourging at the public trough and at least that right wing loonie who wanted to send troops to King George isn't at 24 Sussex. So the Canadian Election makes the list of silver linings by not being as bad as it could have been. Oh Canada.

4. Vindication of Hugo Chavez: Hugo Chavez comes back from an American coup attempt to win a referrendum by a landslide. Medea Benjamin wrote ,
When the rule of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was reaffirmed in a landslide 58-42 percent victory on Sunday, the opposition who put the recall vote on the ballot was stunned. They obviously don’t spend much time in the nation’s poor neighborhoods.

5. The People of Beslan have donated
over 35 thousand dollars (US$) to the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami.: So maybe there is some hope for us.

1 comment:

Leon VanderPol said...

Indeed, quite a compilation of the atrocities of the past year you've put together boys! I think you've nailed the coffin shut.

A couple of questions for the next blog: (1) What is the grand purpose of these earthly conflicts? (2) What does the world that you would rather have be, look like?