Auckland - New Orleans - Baghdad

I have this bad habit that I'm currently trying to break - watching TV. I've spent too many hours this past winter in front of the idiot box. So much so that some mornings I find my brain cowering in a corner of the room begging for a new home..... perhaps someone would care to adopt said brain, I know after all ignorance is bliss...

Well this past week I decided it was time to break the routine or habit. First step was to push the red button on the remote - it wasn't easy, sweaty brow and the thought I might actually miss Paul Henry, reason enough to push the red button you may suggest. I'm doing quite well, or at least I was till a little lady called Katrina entered my life and that of many millions of peoples.

My view of Katrina is that of a privileged bystander, which suits me fine and I hope I never have to met her face to face. Well anyway, Katrina as you hopefully realise is the Hurricane that has devastated New Orleans and an area the size of New Zealand in the USA. What’s that got to do with Paul Henry you ask - well both include a lot of unnecessary wind, and from my position both come at me via the TV. So I'm stuck like a gibbon on a stick. Watching the late night news, you know the BBC and Fox as our locally run media isn't really much cop in these situations, well not until they find a Kiwi victim to focus on, which they have found, well not found the story is found, the Kiwi I believe is still, missing, but I digress.

I've found myself stuck in front of the Telly in the wee small hours digesting all that Fox and BBC could throw my way, which in itself is sad. I don't rate the BBC as highly as I once did (not since discovering DW - German, TV on Triangle), seems to be all about telling us what’s coming up in 20 minutes and not enough actual content on that channel, so I watch more of Fox News - not cause I am delusional and think its a good source of news, quite the opposite, I think Fox News is perhaps one of the best comedies on our TV screens here currently - sad in itself. Are those people journalists I wonder? If so what cereal box did their qualifications fall from? Should I open my much valued Kelloggs "Bart Simpsons Eat My Shorts" cereal box in search of a similar qualification - I could do with some more details to add to my CV. Well to cut a long winded and story short I found the TV News lacking, for example on TV3's news one night Katrina was the second story briefly touched on after a detailed story about some guy who was sent to jail for drink driving - ok it was his 28th conviction for this particular offense but in my books this isn't really national news, more a sad human interest story about a terminal fool. So I gave up on our local media and searched the interweb for stories about the Hurricane and the resulting tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes. This is much more real than the horrendous Tsunami of last December, as New Orleans is in a nation that has all the media one could ever want and has infrastructure that one would expect from the world's largest economic powerhouse. Even if its also America's poorest city.

Now in the virtual world I have a number of usual ports of call for news, analysis and commentary, these were of course my first places to visit. One of the first articles I read was about how the National Guardsmen that would normally be stationed in and around Louisiana are posted in Iraq, much of the money that was allocated to maintaining and building flood control measures in and around New Orleans had been slashed by the Bush administration so that those resources could be spent on the War In Iraq and the War On Terror that this current US Administration is blindly following. This isn't surprising considering the costs associated with both and whilst the US is so vastly wealthy their pockets are only so deep and all that money has to come from somewhere. However I like a good anti Bush rant as much as the next leftie leaning conspiracy theorist, this wasn't the time for that action, people were dying and there is plenty of time for anti Bush propaganda later, as I am positive will come, in wave after wave of post Hurricane stories and commentaries.

One of my haunts is Biggie, a dance focused website situated here in Auckland, also one that is a bit broader than ya usual lets get high and paaaarty bullshit so many of the dance communities forums and websites are solely focused on. Here I found many a opinion and multiple links to video and other sources of information and comments whilst funny were also very tasteless, one I laugh at whilst hiding behind the couch is "Allah 1, USA 0", yeah bad taste indeed but... I downloaded a film clip of a TV crew in a Wal-Mart that was being looted - nothing surprising in that, except for the two Policewoman who were also looting, whom the reporter tried to interview. (sorry lost the link)

This was one day after the scale of the disaster was making itself very obvious, which makes one think how thin the line between a civil society and one that is in disarray and falling apart is. If the Police are going to fall victim to temptation, what does it suggest about the thousands of residents who live below the poverty line and also by coincidence are the bulk of those left in New Orleans. You start to wonder, what would I be doing in a similar situation. I know I live quite close to a few very good record stores.... though looting for vinyl is unpractical - it's just too heavy in bulk. I did think this chap had his priorities right, but then I'm quite partial to a drop of the amber

I spent an hour in a chat room (something i haven't done for about 4 years) that was about Nola - a town not far from New Orleans, also weirdly the surname of a very dear friend. Whilst watching the chat unfold I was taken aback by the number of trolls who were talking absolute bullshit, the talk vared between the situation in Nola and wider area, to rascist insults and bizarrely insults about who won The Second World War (anti German sentiment), quite where that line of attack had crept in I had missed but it struck me as profound. There were also much anti and pro Bush sentiments being laid on very thick, mainly by people who came across as thick themselves. I guess Chatrooms are like talkback radio, filled with experts who know very little outside of their own preconceptions and generalisations of this world, bit like a blog I guess :)

I'm starting to waffle now, which many of my past teachers would know is par for the course. One article I did enjoy and strongly advise all readers to go and read for themselves is New Orleans a Geopolitical Prize by George Friedman. A stunning read about the history and importance of this most vital City in the context of the US economy and thus the world’s economy. A very sobering and enlightening (?) read.

As events unfold over the next days, weeks, months and years post Katrina we'll see just how much this big blow has had on not only the US but on the global economy, Tied in with the current oil crisis - well crisis for all those but them with share holdings in the oil industry it seems, damn where is my Exxon portfolio

Which brings us to Baghdad, a city that houses 3000 Louisiana Nationalguardspeople and Iraq itself which is host to 4,000 Mississippi National Guard, all of whom should really be at home for events such as katrina. Which is a rallying cry for much of the anti war lobby in the US as calls to "bring the boys home" get louder and louder, this may just be the straw that breaks the camels back and maybe just maybe the current US Administration will have to bow down to some of the rapidly shifting sentiment of the American public and start to pull back out of the street of Iraq and back into the protected zones and bases that so much of the rebuilding money for the country has monopolised, allowing for troops to be shifted back to the US homeland.

Having held the view that the invasion of Iraq should never have happened and that the entire war is not only illegal in the eyes of the International Courts but a folly that the US and their sycophants should never have embarked on.

One must also see the situation as it is, a major pullout by the US and its partners at this crucial point in Iraq's ongoing transformation to whatever it is going to become could just be the spark the various sections of Iraqi society need to push them into a civil war, which once looked like the propaganda of the US neo-conservatives but now thanks largely to their politics and actions via puppetgeorgieboy or lack there of Iraq now stands on the brink of complete meltdown.

Its not hard to envisage the insurgents upping the number of attacks on Iraqi's and security forces to further push the bulk of the Iraqi population into a situation where there will be an large uprising of the those who up until now have been so patient (amazingly so) whilst they have awaited a positive outcome from this complete hogs ear of a war.

I read this article this week about how the Coalition could pacify and rebuild a Iraq that seemed from my couch a logical and workable means to achieving the aims (or what we are lead to believe are the
aims) of the whatever number of reason we're up to for the invasion of Iraq in the first place. However I can't imagine it happening for all the logic this article enspouses, logic seems to be one of the biggest factors that has always been lacking in the US's post September 11 reaction. Coupled with this article I am back at square one wondering if and how anything good can ever be gained from this war and if the Iraqi people will enjoy any sort of peace in my lifetime, I fear they may not and until they do we in our privileged bastions of the western world will also be victim of the sorts of attacks that we'll be celebrating/remembering in a few short days time.

I should really switch off the internetweb now too, but can't. Here I am sitting in front of the TV, writing this entry when I should really have a shower, put on some clean shorts and listen to some records and await the sun so I can go outside and read.

Currently I am immersed in Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age", a book I first read ten years ago, this time I am taking my time and reading it throughly rather than devouring it at a rate that made me miss so many of the smaller/finer details that am I enjoying way more this time round.

Sitting in the luxury of Auckland watching the world and exiting from that for small chunks of time into a world of futuristic fantasy is something not to be discounted. Life is a strange beast and so much better to be a voyeur than a participant in most recent events.

I will be participating in our general election, which is shaping up to be one hell of a fight for those 15-20% of voters who haven't made their minds up yet. Which I am not one of but wish I was. Where is the Mcgillicuddy Serious Party when ya need them?

With that I think its time for that shower and I do believe some reggae to usher in what is shaping up to being another glorious Auckland spring day.

Comments

Simon said…
Welcome aboard Bob...about bloody time may I hazard..

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