Thursday, March 15, 2007

Baghdad F.C Excerpt

Just found this in a book I was reading, Simon Freeman's Bagdhad F.C. A quote from an 1920's RAF airmen, it shows that isn't exactly an Iraqi fault that led to the Iraq War, but decades of overbearing dominance by the League of Nations and in particular, the U.K

One RAF squadron leader said: "Real bombing means within 45 minutes, a full size village can be practically wiped out, and a third of inhabitants killed or injured, by four or five which offer them no real target, no opportunity for glory as warriors, no effective means of escape." The British continued to bomb the Iraqis through the 1920s. in 1924, one RAF officer, Air Commodore Lionel Charlton was so disgusted when he visited a hospital and saw the mutilated civilians that he resigned his commission. But many were brutish. One RAF ranker wrote: "Woe betide any native [working for the RAF] who was caught in the act of thieving any article of clothing that might be hanging out to dry. It was the practice to take any offending native into the squadron gymnasium. Here he would be placed in a boxing ring, used as a punch bag by members of the boxing team, and after he had received severe punishment, and he was in a sorry condition, he would be expelled for good, minus his job."

You can't really blame them for wanting some kind of retribution. Iraq is merely a concept, lines drawn on the map in the aftermath of World War 1. No political or cultural differences were taken into account. History is repeating itself in the most ugly form. Don't we owe them an apology?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

No to Nukes

Just a little write-up I had to do for a class debate:

No to Nukes

Council meeting ends with veto of nuclear power station application

By Johan van de Ven and Tom McFadzean

All names have been changed for legal reasons

Present were a plethora of expert witnesses and activists from around the globe, including political troublemakers, Greenpeace. What ensued was a heated debate with Alpha Waste, inc., the contracted waste management group, and the aforementioned Greenpeace dominating the floor. But one thing is for sure: Melbourn, if the council's recommendation is taken into consideration, will not be scarred with a nuclear power plant. The source of the argument was Alpha Waste's claim that all nuclear waste would be stored underground. Greenpeace did not like the idea, arguing that hazardous nuclear waste could seep into soil or the water table, contaminating the region's natural resources, and hence the food supplies. Another point made was that research into nuclear technology inhibited progress made in the quest for clean, renewable industry, as it took up valuable government grants. However, anti-terror expert Arjen van Leenen, a researches at the National Laboratory in the Netherlands, reminded the council that even in poorer countries, nuclear facilities were “very secure.” One example given was that of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Facility, near San Diego, in the US. It has two airbases within a 30 mile radius. Despite hostile questioning from the Friends of the Earth representatives, van Leenen also pointed out that there has never been an instance of nuclear terror, “looks like the world learnt a valuable from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
The debate boiled down to a vote, which swayed against the motion.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

These are a few of my favourite things...

Over the past year living in China (Aug 05-Jun 06), we saw a great many things, from a torn apart body on the Yangzhou- Nanjing Expressway to the vast crowds at Tiananmen Square. Of course a lot of it was the nostalgia of visiting sights from my childhood. There is no way to express my feelings for Nanjing, and for China as a whole, but here are some experiences that left a mark on me.

1) Swooping down on Nanjing, a city I'd left behind nearly a decade ago. Seeing how much it had changed, even from the air, was enthralling

2) Walking from the old Hilton to Xinjiekou, also known as downtown Nanjing, something that led to my falling in love with the city

3) That first day at NIS, 15. Aug. Seeing that plethora of nationalities really got my senses flowing.

4) Shanghai. From my first night, driving amongst the skyscrapers on the Yan'an Elevated Road to swimming amongst the swaths of people on Nanjing Lu, New Years Eve, to the Jinmao Tower the day before a bleary-eyed departure, there is no way to describe this city other than amazing.

5) Trips Week '05. A week "roughing it" across Shaanxi and Henan. Included were 28 hours on trains and 12 on buses, but sifting through sites such as the Longmen Grottoes on the banks of the Yellow river, the Terracotta Army, Xian, and the home of Kung Fu, Shaolin, was amazing.

6) The afternoon spent at the Grand Canadian Academy, better known as Nanjing Foreign Languages School. Playing with Chinese kids and wandering around the campus with our host, Tommy, was "healthy", but more importantly, very interesting.

7) Hopkins Center soccer every weekend. From the exuberant Jia Kun to the cheeky Victor to the vets, Robert and my dad, Hans, there was a great mix in abilities, from NCAA to novice, everyone was represented. As with everything Hopkins-related, the sense of looking forward, enjoying life to the full was contagious.

8) Looking down on Tiananmen Square from the Forbidden City during the Golden Week, it was unnerving to think of the history that had unfolded on the exact tile I was standing.

9) Xuanwu Lake. Whilst some people described it as dull, it showed what the Chinese can do when they want to. The result, a pristine, elaborate park, complete with rowing club and a very watery driving range. Major deja vu after going to Al Azhar park in Cairo. Two up- and-coming countries, though.

10) The pirating business. Just like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich and giving the poor. It allows all but the poorest of the poor to access Western media. And it allows foreigners to build up ridiculous DVD collections. You could even get them in foreign supermarkets, such as Carrefour.

11) Biking around Nanjing. This was probably the most influential factor in my addiction to Nanjing, because it meant you could take in the sights and smells, roam the city at ones will. It makes you feel like one of them, not a laowai.

Oh, and...