[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: July 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

IRA stands down: 'Must wait and see'

Today was the most horrible weather i've experienced in quite a while; cold, continous rain and winds so hard that bins were filled with broken umbrellas. I was cheered up by the headlines of the IRA's statement to end its 36 year long armed campaign in Northern Ireland. What to took 11 hard years to work may soon become reality. Sinn Fein spokesperson Martin McGuinness even flew to Washington to announce it.
First of all, we have to see if all sections of the Real & Provisional IRA will take the orders to stand down and decommission. If so, visual proof must be provided to the public and respective governments, something that the IRA hasn't yet agreed to. So all we have are words at the moment- oral promises are easily broken. The DUP and UUP remain skeptical of their intentions.
There is still the question of the IRA's criminal activity and terrorism abroad, such as the famous 3 alleged IRA members incarcerated in Columbia. So if the volunteers do put down their arms, what will they do next? Are they willing to pursue Irish unity through peaceful political means or will they seek opportunities elsewhere through the barrel of a gun? With the rise of international terrorism and existing global crime, these ex-IRA volunteers can easily find a new market for their skills. So although we might see a dawn of a new era in Northern Ireland, the worrying aspect of growing global terrorism still looms.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Innocent man killed

In a shocking series of events in London yesterday, police officers shot dead a suspected terrorist bomber.
It was revealed today the victim, one Jean Charles de Menezes was 27 year old Brazilian who worked as an electrician in London for 3 years and had no connections to terrorism whatsoever.
His only crime was only wearing a black padded coat and looked like a south Asian. One witness in the underground said de Menezes was running around the place and looked desperate. Well I guess I would too if armed un-uniformed people were chasing me. Either way it gave police officers enough reason to shoot him five times in the head as he boarded a train.
Given the heightened alert status of London police and the erratic beheviour of de Menezes, the shooters only reacted for security reasons. It was an unfortunate accident that Mayor Ken Livingstone calls a 'human tragedy.'
Now ordinary citizens must take care in not to arouse any sort of suspicious behaviour, especially Muslims. This also raises the fears of police with these so called 'anti-terrorism powers'. We've all heard of America's 'Patriot Act' and its fears of eradicating civil liberties. Can it be a type of Draconian control in disguise? Notice there are no votes or referendums on enacting these anti-terrorism legislations... but citizens do not questions these motives because of the climate of fear that has drawn over us. Politicans automatically assume the public are supportive, but would they mention that police officers have a 'licence to kill' anyone suspicious?
The Ambassador of Brazil in Ireland Stelio Marcos Amarante has condemened the shooting and called the police 'very unproffesional' and will launch their own inquiry into the incident.
The news media also plays a role in propagating this fear by their 'human interest' stories on terrorism victims and constant reminders of the threats & vulnerabilities we face.
Bottom line people, The War Against Terror (TWAT) is going to dramatically change the western world and how we live from now on. Soon maybe the news will be dominated by frequent terrorist attacks on major cities just like Baghdad today. Or news of backlashes against Muslims, burning of Mosques & Korans, xenophobia...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Panorama: Undercover Nurse

I was shocked by the recent epsiode of BBC's Panorama 'Undercover Nurse' for two reasons: That even nurses, the front line in providing care for sick people can be so inhumane, and how elderly people suffer in both pain and dignity while in hospitals.

Filmed by two undercover nurses in NHS hospitals in Brighton, they reveal severe lapses in care and inappropriate nursing standards. The result is elderly people suffering needlessly and dying alone due to lack of funding and sub-standard nurses. Some nurses were openly hostile towards elderly patients and did not provide the basic care such as bringing food, water & medication at given times. So what shocked is that how these people can even become nurses. Just to name a few instances, an elderly man asked a male nurse to help adjust his pillow but the nurse barked back saying 'he was busy' when obviously he was intentionally antagonising.

Another instance was the poor fate of Jessie, a very sick woman who's very basic needs were overlooked. Only the undercover nurse paid proper attention but even that was irregular because she had other shifts. Jessie eventually died alone, but shockingly she was later discovered by the undercover nurse who returned later, realising that nobody had noticed she died a few hours earlier. The appropriate thing would've been to ease her pain and call her friends & family, but none of that happened. In another case, a woman had been screaming for help for 2 hours because she had defacated herself and had no one to help her. Where's the dignity in that? What was also distressing to hear was of some good nurses who were 'dragged down' by the system; they once cared but due to pressure and stress, they simply stopped caring and treated their patients inhumanely.

Having had experience working in a nursing home and hospital, and visting my grandfather on a regular basis before he died (he had Parkinson's and diabetes), and after watching 'Undercover Nurse', I can see how distressing it is to look after sick elderly people. I totally agree on providing sufficient care for our elderly, no matter how incontinent or incompetent they are. Some say it is a waste of tax payers' money to care for them as it only delays the inevitable. And private care? Not if you're high on the income ladder; VHI's Medicare plans are very costly for its long-term care insurance. Although our family was able to afford for our grandfather, I can't help but think of the less fortunate. VHI has decided to increase it's premium by 16%, another severe blow to the low incomes.

But caring for our elderly cannot be singly on the government's shoulders, the family members play an equal if not more important role. According to Age Action Ireland roughly 25% of elderly people live alone, although it's much lower than other European countries. Whether or not they feel lonely or depressed, we must all be respectful and pay regular visits to our elders, especially if they feel lonely, even a phone call. I admit I haven't been paying enough attention to my grandmother but after writing all this I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't heed my own words. If it weren't for them, there would be no us. It was they and the elders before them that set things in motion, that led to this present generation, and we will also do the same thing eventually.

My grandparents did what any able parents did, they looked after their children, and my parents did the same for me, provided care, education and a car if i'm lucky. And what have I done to deserve these gifts? Nothing except for the fact that I was their offspring. And isn't it the luckiest thing of all that any child can have? Of course it would be silly to ask us to repay everything back. So the least we could do is give our elders the attention and respect they deserve. How would we feel if we had to live alone, with our children & grandchildren too busy at work or socialising to pay us a visit? After all, if it weren't for us, there would be no them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Alias: Mr. Miyagi

Congratulations Edwin Lee, you are...

Mr Miyagi of

You are witty, and you know people from places. Those two qualities and others make you a very popular person among your peers, because they want to hear you dish out filthy backstage gossips. You also have a knack for inventing new words to suit yourself. You are a very loyal friend, and would jump into the ocean if your friend asked you to. And that's probably gonna happen if your friend gets too jealous of you getting all the girls/guys.

Which Singaporean Blogger Are You?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Where do we go from here?

The London terrorist bombing, aka '7/7', is a shocking reminder of how easy it is to commit terrorism in European cities and how vulnerbale we all are. After all you can find bomb ingredients in your local chemist, strap on a backpack and detonate it in any crowded public place. Sure the IRA have done such acts before, but they were a local phenomenon. These Al-Qaeda/Muslim fundamentalists bring more dangerous undertones. Whether this is a once-off attack, or the beginning of a wave of attacks, no doubt Britain and the rest of the EU will begin implementing serious security changes, perhaps putting it on the main agenda of the new EU constitution.
It is saddening to hear of anti-Muslim attacks occuring around Britain, just like what happened in the US shortly after 9/11. Will this sentiment keep on going? Will the Muslim community become further sidelined in British society, or even in Europe? It is easy to point the finger on a community and place the blame, that's why solidarity is the name of the game. I'm not too familiar with the Muslim community in Britain but i think they are rather well integrated, especially the younger/next generation. But whether or no they can grow up in a tolerant or prejudiced society is up to today's generation and what they do now in this new climate of fear and uncertainty that has spawned from '7/7'.
So what happens from here? Expect similar 'Patriot Acts' and quicker legislation of anti-terrorism laws. Britain's ID card scheme which had undergone scrutiny may soon be reality, despite the cost to taxpayers. Ireland is already considering biometric passports.
I think today's terrorism most powerful impact is not the casualties caused, but the long term effect on our society. If anyone mentions terrorism, it automatically conjures Al-Qaeda & Muslim fundamentalism or people with Arabic names dosen't it? Can you honestly say that when you look upon a bearded Muslim gentleman or a sheik covered woman it would not remind of you terrorists? You may think we live in a liberal world but it is so easy to build upon simple prejudices, especially our younger generation. Both Muslims and non-Muslims need to work together on this to purge young minds of these prejudices.
Although this is the 21st century etc, you might think the Jewish Holocaust, Serbian ethnic cleansing and Rwandan genocide are relics of the out dated barbaric 20th century. Let's face it, we humans have a hard time learning from the past. There are still wars, civil strife, racism, terrorist acts, and high levels of crime (if not more). Today is just like a modernised version of the imperialism age. Every powerful group or individuals have their own agendas and will do anything for the pursuit of power & money while a tiny elite minority has all the authority. Unfortunately the western captalised world has a tendency of promoting these ideologies. Then again it can also give some the opportunity to change their ways; such as affording to live environmentally friendly, buying organic/fresh foods, alternative energy sources etc.
OK point is, these are very interesting times. And there are too many problems and too many suffering in the world to list. It just pains me to be so helpless. Sure i want to try and change the world for the better, but how is that possible without belonging to the tiny elite minority? I used to go to alot of protests but what can chanting and placards do but cause a lot of noise & traffic? No, the only effective is to become of the powerful elites- climb your way up the political ladder by any means possible, no matter how dishonorable it may be. When you're on top, then you'll have the power to change. It's just as if a low level Microsoft employee made his/her way up to Bill Gate's job only to completely dissolve the company and break up into smaller chains, eliminating monopoly and singular hegemony. This is the way to true power in the 21st century for preserving democracy will require non-democratic methods.
This is perhaps why George Bush is misunderstood. But i still think he's a wanker.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A blow to Spanish Machismo

A new law has been passed by the Spanish government to make men do at least 40% of housework. It will be tied into the marriage contract. Failure to meet this requirement will not favour the husband in terms of divorce, ie. the amount of time he can spend with his children.

I can't even begin the fathom how they will enforce this law. Does this encourage gender equality or just simply belittles the issue of men's & women's equality?

According to a survey, Irish men are ranked among Europe's most dedicated "new men", ready to do their fair share of home chores.

Read more:

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Well fuck it anyway...

US embassy protest Posted by Picasa

Well the damn embassy didn't give me the visa once again. It was ridiculous really: On Tuesday she said they'll grant me the visa and I'll have it in the post in a day bla bla. So great I finally got it. Then I get a call from an embassy receptionist asking me to come again tommorow morning without telling me why. What could be wrong? The officer said she'll grant me the visa... So after another agonising early trip down to the embassy, the officer says she 'has second thoughts.' She basically asked me the same questions but this time it didn't get through.
How can they fucking do that?? For the next ten minutes it was utterly infuriated. But it soon died down because deep down I knew my chances weren't good, even before I applied for a third time. So luckily I had made some reserve plans if New York didn't work out.
So now I'm just waiting on a few call backs, such as Concern who want interns. Gonna go back to work for a while, maybe even for the rest of the summer. At least I'll get some good dosh to spend.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

What's so gr8 about Live 8?

Live 8 means well, but its ideals are hollow and ineffective.
'We don't want your money, we want you' is a good sincere statement to raise awareness but what can 'you' do but give charity? The fact that loads of rich celebrities and musicians were involved to raise awareness is a joke, their vast fortunes put together can do a lot to alleviate poverty.
And why bother raising awareness in poverty in Africa when it's already common knowledge? Aren't those Trocaire or Concern ads not enough to reminds us? Or the news on Rwanda and Darfur? All of a sudden it's trendy to wear a white bracelet to show others you know. Well done dumbasses.
Even if G8 leaders decide to drop debt and double aid, it'll still take a long time and many resources to eradicate poverty in the 18 poorest countries. What about corrupt officials, government sponsored violence, rebel gangs and criminality? These factors are just as important in alleviating poverty. And no amount of Live 8 concerts or protests can get rid of them.
Well at least they got Pink Floyd together once more!