Last week, Australian Schapelle Corby was sentenced to 20 years by an Indonesian court following her October 2004 arrest on drug smuggling charges. Corby went to Bali to vacation, as many Australians do, but customs officials found a four kilo brick of weed in her luggage and her life as she knew it, changed forever. It should be noted that the 20 year sentence is considered lenient under Indonesian law, as the government prosecutors in this case pushed for the death penalty.
The Corby case was just a small blip on the radar screens of the U.S. public. Our media only had small mention of it when she was sentenced. We were treated to about a minute of video showing the post sentencing outrage in the Indonesian court by friends, family and supporters.
In Australia and Indonesia however, this case has had the media attention of our own Michael Jackson trial. The Indonesian court sentencing was broadcast live in Australia and New Zealand. There are blogs, jokes and petitions. There is Aussie outrage and Indonesian outrage about the outrage. Heads of state of both countries are weighing in on it and trying to cool the emotions.
One of those emotions is the adroit and troubling comparison between the sentences given the Muslim terrorist involved in the Bali hotel bombing that incinerated over 200 people, many of them foreign tourists, and the so-called lenient sentence imposed by this same court to Schappelle Corby. The terrorist got 30 months and the hair dresser got 20 years.
This outrage was met by Indonesian and Australian protest. Embassies were closed. The U.S. Embassy in Indonesia is off and on, but Abu Sayyaf is continually giving that consulate reason to be cautious, anyway. It seems the only hope for Corby might be in a prisoner transfer between these nations.
Before you decide to help tsunami victims personally by visiting or go on that lifetime rad surfing trip to Bali, you might want to simply read the succinct scenario described by Fuzzy Math on the High Times site:
Imagine the follwing scenario:
You, your wife and your parents take a holiday to Bali, Indonesia. You check into the hotel, two separate rooms, but for convenience you also get keys for your parents room and vice versa...so each of you has a key to both rooms.
As it turns out, the previous occupant forgot a chunk of hashish under the mattress and housekeeping did not find it when that occupant checked out.
Then on the third day of your visit, while you're at the beach, housekeeping finds the chunk of hashish and calls the police. The police greet you, your wife and your parents upon returning to the hotel and because you all have keys to the room you are all arrested.
Under Indonesian Law, all four of you would be charged with possession and face a minimum of ten years in prison.
Your only defense would be to produce the previous occupant in court and prove that the hashish was his/hers. But that occupant is back in his/her home country by now, assuming you could even find his/her name.
So, you would certainly be convicted as the Indonesian courts have a nearly 100% conviction rate in drug cases.
Then you and your familiy would rot in a dank vermin infested prison lousy with diseases from the old testament where they don't even provide toilet paper.
Or you could BOYCOTT INDONESIA. Go someplace friendlier.
I agree with Fuzzy Math. Despite many countries adopting a common sense attitude toward marijuana, one need only to watch movies like "Return to Paradise" (1998 - starring Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn), or "Brokedown Palace" (1999 - starring Claire Danes, Kate Beckinsale, and Bill Pullman), or the infamous 1978 Oliver Stone movie adaption of the Billy Hayes story "Midnight Express" to get a clue that some countries around the world are very harsh with their drug laws. Many even prefer to avoid the cost of maintaining a decent prison system by simply executing their drug offenders. Guilty or innocent, you're screwed if you find yourself in Schappelle Corby's situation.
Current estimates reveal we are spending about 7 billion dollars a year. Multiply that by the last 20 years to understand the generational compounded waste of money on a substance with which one third (95 million people) in the U.S. population has used and has no problem.
Clearly, this is simply one of those things that falls under the irrationality clause of governance, like the Bush stem cell research policy - protecting a Snowflake embryo while killing 100,000 grown-up and walking embryos in Iraq. Indonesia is no different, so don't presume I'm just bashing one religion or just Islam. It just is. If the most populous muslim country wants to execute western tourists by bombs or corruption in their legal system, that's their sovereign right as a new democracy to do so.
At the same time, it's my sovereign right as a tourist consumer to decide to vacation (or holiday) someplace else, rather than in the little slice surrealistic paradise on the planet, called Indonesia. Seriously, I don't care if Bali loses all its tourism and eventually becomes an island of industrial pollution and child labor factories. I grew up in Detroit, so if their Sharia-based drug policy kills their local economy, Indonesian defenders of it can talk to my hand.
So ... why? Well, I go through the TAG board periodically (or when asked) and delete entries. Mainly I delete your entries because it reloads the page periodically or when you add a new entry for chatting and when it gets too large, it takes up bandwidth loading constantly. My general rule was this: if you put an annoying little smilie emoticon on the TAG, that entry was the first to go when I cleaned house.
The second rule: if the entry was older. But the second rule bummed me out because I hate to throw away memories, so, some entries were deemed to be classics and had to be preserved (like Hygelic reading my blog in the bathroom on his cell phone).
Then the first and second rules unfortunately clashed when it came to old school phreeks who might put an ascii emoticon at the end of their sentence, like Skennedy (et al). These people were violating my first unstated rule through no fault of their own, and, because the programmers of the TAG board must have thought to themselves, "how handy-fucking-dandy would it be if we just translated every ascii emoticon to a different happy little yellow face?" So, they dropped another few hits of Exstacy, patted each other on the back and went back to coding the TAG board.
So, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing -- I've decided to archive the TAG board here for all to see -- and still be able to delete older entries (and keep the TAG.html small) with a clear conscience. I normally archive halfway through the month.
Ferouk bin Femmel » *winks in, singing* ...it's now or never, come hold me tight, kiss m--- *disappears* Edna May » Namaste, dear! Namaste! *joins JfZ in his hot tub and begins her morning mantra* Aummmm, Auummmm, Aummmmm Aummmmmmm mmmmm *snores* Mich » blog hop CB » nice blog Ferouk bin Femmel » *wonders fleetingly how he landed here...barely has time to yell "Help!" before disappearing again* dennis » Ok JFZ! Point me in direction where I can read the FACTS about ben Laden and Bush - please. Did "Columbine" guy get it right? (?name) Is there more? Less? dennis » Hard to read those letters and tributes - even harder to see the pics. Two of those pics could have been my son and daughter in Airborne. Prepared Iraq oilfields for first invasion. Sick!! ssprite » thats some pile of eaten ribs at right - ooer i mean dino bones LOL J f Z » Dennis: Sure I can. I'm no longer on the grid in reality and JfZ is just my residual self image. dennis » Hello Friend - Are YOU (as blog writer) "allowed" to talk about Bush's connection with the ben Laden's family? Does that initiate a Patriot Act offensive? brynn » hey dear. just poppin' in to say hi. 7one » Hi virus n jfz! virus » yo jfz. hows it going? Jude » *poke* lisalamby » Thanks! J f Z » Hygelic: So awesome to hear from you! I'll email you. Whoa. More than just democrats are tired of Bush's lies. Heh. J f Z » Ten Speed: Not much. Not much. Not much at all. hygelic » are you a democrat? hygelic » whoa hygelic » How the hell can I contact you? hygelic » You can put your weed in there. Akira3099 » "..a unanimous decision..." dead petals » hey, just thought i'd let you know i'm leaving blogdrive. i don't know for how long, but when or if i return, i will let you know. and hopefully ill catch ya on yahoo one of these days Ten Speed Indian » hey Ten Speed Indian » hey Ten Speed Indian » hey it's ten speed, what's up? J f Z » Thanks, Dennis. You know I still have a gaggle of adoptive moms running around these parts, too. Heh. dennis » jfz, I observed a moment of rememberance yesterday to grieve with you about the loss of your mom this. Damn! It's not nice being orphaned - I know. dennis » JFZ - the reason women like it is that it lasts "five minutes!" - unlike the guy who sneaks under the covers. wailfulrhyme » Nutella, anyone? Lyly » Finally had some free time to spruce up the entry, add a couple more bitchy comments. Because I wanted to. Lyly » aww shucks *kicks dirt* dead petals » we should, maybe, possibly, chat it up sometime. . 7one » Hi there! Just linked you. J f Z » Lyly: But, sadly, you no longer love him. /wink/ Those shots were from Q3A maps I never bothered to publish as playable game levels. Just experimenting. Learning. Lyly » Knew they looked familiar. My ex loves the game. J f Z » Lyly: They were just some experiments for Quake 3 Arena. Lyly » Your gallery pics - which game(s) is/are they from? J f Z » *G-funk: Yo. *Lyly/BC: Happy Monthend! *Static Brain: There is no spoon. *Jude: Booger was the other nerd. Not me. *Edna May/Wail: Sounds like you both clicked on [My Penis]. J f Z » Dead Petals: Sorry. See why I don't have a poetic blog? Heh. dead petals » 'i got pain older than you are' - that made my heart sink. wailfulrhyme » i should put smilies at the end of my sentences so you delete them when i say something dumb. wailfulrhyme » and now i feel even more *supid* because i spelt stupid wrong! wailfulrhyme » how's my bus stop ho? Edna May » John...do I look pale to you, dear? Jude » Bugger! *smacks forehead* ...I tho't it was Booger! dead petals » hey bugger. how's it goin?
I started to write up this entry last night and got so pissed off listening to the Republican pundits trying to defend the Bush administration and condemning the Democrats for not rubber-stamping the nomination of John Bolton to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I won't repeat that Dark Skies Section 60 rant here, but it might be helpful for you to take a minute to read it in order to understand some of what I'm about to say.
My initial motivation to blog about Memorial Day arose from my anger at the U.S. television news media's seemingly cavalier reporting about Iraq. More often than not, they treat it as if they were reporting some friggin' sports game. How many times have you heard, "Today, 2 Marines were killed today outside of Baghdad by a car bomb. 20 Iraqi civilians were killed?"
Then 30 seconds later, "Today in the Michael Jackson trial ..." It sickens me.
At the same time, I understand some of the problems any media outlet has trying to report anything in-depth concerning the Iraq War. Besides the financial burden of sending reporters, hiring local stringers, translators, and security -- a media outlet then faces the accusation of reporting "nothing but bad news about Iraq," if they can even get out of the Green Zone and do any in-depth stories.
Hello? Iraq is a friggin' war zone the size of Texas. Without even researching the hard data, I'm going to make a guess that Texas has more law enforcement personnel from the federal, state, county and local level comprising an alphabet-fucking-soup of agencies. And without including the civil service worker population, Texas 'protectors of Freedom' may just outnumber the 138,000 military service personnel in Iraq. What the hell kind of news would one expect?
Iraq is not a baseball game or video game. Recent news reports of defacto al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi being injured has the media attention of a head coach firing on an NCAA basketball team. Even more troubling, Donald Rumsfeld recently compared him to Hitler -- in denial of the fact that the insurgency and foreign terrorism in Iraq isn't ever going to copitulate for us to see some VE day.
And I don't criticize Rumsfeld lightly. He serves at the pleasure of the Democrusader. He and his DoD team are doing an amazing job at transforming the U.S. military out of the Cold War posture and into 21st century readiness -- while at the same time conducting a war. Historically, this is a bit unprecedented.
My minimal respect for Rumsfeld doesn't innoculate him from my criticism, though. I find it ironic that Rumsfeld compares al-Zarqawi to Hitler when a billion people around the planet, and even millions of Americans, compare his Commander in Chief to the same icon of evil for unilaterally invading another country.
So what are we left with? U.S. citizens are left with glib and cursory stories created from the one-sentence DoD casualty announcements, sometimes with some added file footage video, or perhaps a real syndicated seven-second video from the event once in a while.
I decided to pick one day, May 26th, and learn more about the U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq. The image above shows 8 people whose lives tragically ended in Iraq on May 26th. The first three died last year, and the rest in 2003. Anger toward our political leaders turns to sadness when I look into their eyes.
"Beyond the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Section 60 of Arlington Cemetery, we have laid to rest Americans who fell in the battle of Iraq. One of the funerals was for Marine Second Lieutenant Frederick Pokorney Junior, of Jacksonville, North Carolina. His wife, Carolyn, received a folded flag. His two year old daughter, Taylor, knelt beside her mother at the casket to say a final goodbye."
-- past Bush remarks on Memorial Day
Sadness for our country turns into private sadness for their children or people who knew these eight people, when I read what their friends say on web sites. Click the person's name to read comments left by those who knew these eight people killed in Iraq on May 26th. If you need a big cry, just remember that there are 364 more days to mourn 1600+ young people killed or 6300+ gravely injured. I'm not going to paraphrase anything about these eight people, you can click on their name and read it for yourself.
I-75 is a north-south freeway (autobahn) that cuts down through the U.S. and takes you into the great midwest of the U.S. with which I am fairly familiar. Living minutes north of Detroit, Michigan, I would head south on I-75 toward Florida whenever I had vacation time off of school or work, like millions of other people. The scope of I-75 freeway is impressive. I-75 stetches from Lake Superior all the way down to Fort Meyers, Florida, then heads east across the swamps near Lake Ockachobee to Miami, and then on toward the southernmost U.S., located in the Florida Keys. Its old name is the Dixie Highway, complete with large cities, and tiny towns, and totally cheesy tourist attractions.
Like many north-south routes through the recently defined political red state america, I-75 has its (cough) unique places of interest.
Now, I've heard from unoffical sources that the politically correct term for Hill Billy is now Appalachian, referring to a specific species of redneck. If Saturday Night Live uses that new terminology for the toothless and inbred in that part of the country, I guess I should use it too.
If you happen to be heading along I-75, for whatever reason, you could always stop at the increasingly popular Tennessee country music theme park called Dollywood. Who and what is that about? Think Burt Reynolds' Cannonball Run-era girlfriend, Dolly Parton, with the platinum blonde hair and pre-silicone tits, each as large as her own head. She has her own theme park now. Who doesn't like tits?
About 250 miles north of Dollywood, in Petersburg, Kentucky is another fascinating destination. It's called the Creation Museum. While DollyWood is full of stereotypical redneck fun -- good food, horses, and country music -- the museum boasts real Genesis Dinosaurs and a nifty sliver of the evangelical christian sect that so abjectly believes that all translations of the Christian Bible is the literal word of God, that they're spending $25 million dollars to construct this acre-sized museum all about it.
The kids will just love the dinosaur exhibits. You know they will. I remember a chat friend in Chicago was taking her seven-year-old to the Natural History museum for his birthday because he was so fascinated by dinosaurs from watching the Discovery Channel.
Between you and me, when I had this chat, I envied the kid. Envy for not only for hanging out with his mom all day because she is a total hottie, but also in a childlike imagination and exploration way since I had never been to the Natural Museum of History in Chicago. And my curiosity was high because I had just watched that Val Kilmer movie, Ghost and the Darkness. The film was based upon a real story of colonial Africa and supposedly those lions were actually exhibits in the museum.
Anyway, we know how impressionable kids are. But the Creation Museum is no Gator-Feeding rest stop. It's a serious deal and is just the latest oddity in the embarassing battle between so called Creationists and so-called Evolutionists. And like any dirty little secret in any country, the United States has a growing evangelical movement into the nation's public education system, just as it has had in politics over the last twenty years.
Sadly, during this Memorial Day weekend while we remember the fallen heroes of the military bringing freedom to the world from diffferent decades and conflicts in the last century -- and hopefully bringing some future enlightment to their religious and feudal politics of the Middle East, the United States is internally slipping backwards into the theologicial and political thinking prevalent during the era of Nostradamus or the Crusades.
That ideological filibuster fight in the U.S. Senate is likely to happen this upcoming week when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist brings up George Bush's federal judicial nominations. The whole notion of the 'nuclear option' is simply Senate Republicans changing the rules under which the Senate operates in order to make it easier for them to shut the Democrats up and get Bush's judges on the bench. As witnessed by the 2004 election results, politicians like Senator Frist and House Majority Tom Delay have simply calculated their odds of getting re-elected on the power of the social conservative right wing of U.S. politics and decided to go for it. While career Senators complain about the U.S. Senate becoming a partisan rubber stamp for the Democrusader, as the House has become, they fail to recognize the short term political gains and aspirations of its own members.
Politicians discovered the cold hard facts that social conservatives rally and vote -- while progressive slackers fail to get to the voting booth and keep their people in office. There is some progressive hope that the Republican party may just collapse under the failures of its own success -- social conservatives bickering with the neocons, or limited-government republitarians fighting with theocracry wannabes, or simply the anti-economy the Bush administration is trying to sell to the American people, like Iraq Weapons of Mass destruction. While the splinters in the Republican party are widening, slackers need to get off their ass and create the grass-roots activism and civic participation that their political opponents have already mastered at ten thousand pulpits across the country.
My prediction for the future
Continuing unchecked, the social conservatives win the abortion fight and Roe v. Wade is overturned by two new Bush Administration appointees to the Supreme Court. Until the Slacker backlash vote gets a few progressive politicians in office, the social theocracy continues well past the next presidential election, unless another non-cultural issue jumps up to the front and center of the American voter's plasma TV.
What might that be? It could be a deleterious Great Depression Era economic situation based upon the impact on U.S. industry by China or India. It could be national security issue based upon the the distraction of Bush administration by domestic issues for the social conservative's like Terri Schiavo, abortion, and federal judicial nominations and total negligence or mismanagement of the foreign policy issues of North Korea or Iran.
Perhaps another country, like Egypt, announces it also has nuclear weapons. Israel would have a fit. Perhaps by arming Taiwan to the teeth, China decides to up the ante on the simmering trade war. One thing or another. While the petty political aspirations of our legislators are so polarized and focussed on the retributions of past party politics and getting re-elected, bigger forces on the planet are thinking about their next move -- while our policy makers are not.
Not in the U.S. news
Every government has been at the United Nations these past few weeks discussing the issue of nuclear proliferation. And some basic troubling issues confront the nations of our pathetic little spinning ball of mud. For example, what motivation would a small country like North Korea have to give up its nuclear weapon technology when compared to the obvious dishonesty and pre-emptive aggression the United States has already displayed under the Bush administration?
Sending John Bolton to the U.N. is not going to magically fix the Democrusader's image around the world. It's not like Bush can continue bribing and subcontracting countries any longer to offset the basic problem of the administration's lack of integrity. He gave that money up for tax cuts, trade deficits, unchecked federal budgets and the money pit called Iraq -- where only his oil money cronies lay on the bottom of that mess like baby billionaire birds with their mouths open, chirping away for even more money.
And Iran recognizes that we are in the friggin' hood with 138,000 troops, but more importantly, the firepower of stealth bombers and carrier groups in the area. Guess what? The Iranian government is making friends with the fractionated Iraqi government along Shiite diplomatic lines. Iran and Iraq are making peace with each other because they share a common threat to their own securitya nd autonomy. So much for Paul Wolfowitz's vision of our troops being met in the streets of Baghdad with flowers and candy.
Didn't see that coming? Oh, well. Perhaps if the Bush Administration was paying attention to it rather than focussing the keen public manipulations of Karl Rove onto U.S. social engineering, we might not be continually stepping on our own integrity and then denying involvement or responsibility in avoidable embarassments like Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo Bay and Saddam Hussein's underwear centerfold spread.