Newley Purnell's home on the web since 2001

Month: March 2003 (Page 1 of 2)

War Stuff

War Stuff
1) What does the Bush administration have in mind for the Middle East once Hussein is toppled? Joshua Micah Marshall argues that the Bush hawks want widespread and long-term conflict with the fundamentalist Arab world–and that our attack on Iraq is just the start of our military action:

In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East.

It’s a compelling, scary article. And in related news, yesterday Don Rumsfeld had some threatening words for Syria and Iran, who he said are providing aid to Iraq. Was this an opening rhetorical volley? Does the Pentagon think it might not be such a bad idea to go after Syria and Iran, too?

2) After learning that the Iraqis showed images of American POWs on TV, Rumsfeld said, “it is against the Geneva convention to show photographs of prisoners of war in a manner that is humiliating for them.”

Lemme get this straight: we’re invading a sovereign nation without the support of the international community and dropping bombs on people’s heads. And Rumsfeld expects Iraqis to play by the rules. Not to mention the fact that we’ve got 641 POWs–er, “unlawful combatants”–imprisoned down in Guantanamo Bay. They’ve been given no legal rights whatsoever.

3) Every death that has come about as a result of this war is a tragedy. And while we hear about it whenever an American or Brit is killed, it’s easy to forget that Iraqi civilians are dying, too. Here’s a Web site that keeps tabs on exactly how many have perished.

Back from Peru

I’m Back from Peru
I’m back in Cuenca. It’s good to be home. My friend and I arrived here last night. Classes start again on Monday.


My friend Jordan, who’s an extremely talented medical illustrator, it must be said, just sent me a funny site via her hilarious pal Pete. The site is FlubTitles–an amusing compilation of Engrish subtitles from Hong Kong DVDs.

And I can now say this with complete assurance: this moment, right now as I’m writing this, is the first time I’ve ever sat in a Web cafe in northern Peru and pondered East Asian linguistic gaffes.

More links to war coverage

More Links to War Coverage
I’m still in Peru. At the beach with my friend Mike. Waiting for the Ecuadorian consulate to process our long-term visa applications so we can continue traveling and then return to Cuenca. There’re worse places to be stranded, of course. So I can’t complain.

I’ve been using the Web to follow the war. The best sites I’ve found are: 1) Command Post, a frequently-updated Weblog with links to breaking stories; and 2) CyberJournalist, which features links to reporters maintaining Weblogs. The conventional news sites, like Yahoo News and CNN and the New York Times, are okay. But they don’t provide the breath of coverage that blogs offer.

Following the war from rural Peru

Following the War from Rural Peru
It’s strange following the war in Iraq from rural Peru. I don’t have access to a TV, and Web connections are slow and sometimes elusive. Nick Denton, though, has put together a nice collection of Web sites posting reliable and up-to-date war news.

Report from Mancora

Report From Mancora, Peru
I’ve been in Mancora, Peru for the last few days. I had to leave Ecuador and re-enter the country in order to apply for a long-term visa, so I decided to travel for a week or so before returning.

Mancora’s a sleepy little beach town on Peru’s northern coast; lots of sun, good seafood, and plenty of relaxation. My friend and I might head down to Lima next and then make our way back to Ecuador. But we’re not sure yet.

SELA Foundation

The SELA Foundation
Last week, my friend Mike introduced me to the friendly, hard-working folks at The SELA Foundation, which is based here in Cuenca. SELA is involved in legal services, human rights, and conflict resolution for marginalized groups in rural and suburban Southern Ecuador. I look forward to learning more about their work.

Photos, at Long Last!

I’ve finally gotten around to scanning in some photos of my various adventures here. In mostly chronological order, here goes:

Me jumping over a fire on New Year’s Eve (a local tradition)

Some Ecuadorian friends jumping over the same fire on New Year’s Eve

An Ecuadorian guy dressed in drag on New Year’s Eve (also a local tradition)

A cool trashcan (foreground) and a mother and son (background) in Gualaceo

An impromptu jam session at a favorite Cuenca restaurant

Me towering over some girls in Quito

A really nice photo (if I do say so myself) of a funeral here in Cuenca (I wouldn’t have taken if I knew then that it was a funeral)

A photo of me and my fellow TEFL classmates in Cajas National Park (yes, I’m wearing ridiculous red pants–and I’ve got a great story about a wild bull we encountered while backpacking there: he gazed at my trousers for some time; I was nervous)

Me backpacking in Cajas National Park

My friend Mike posing next to a bed in a very bad hostal in Riobamba

Self portrait taken atop our bus on the way to Canoa

Me at the beach in Canoa

Me and a food vendor atop the famous “Nariz del Diablo” (Devil’s Nose) train (not sure who the guy in the back is)

Sideways photo of the Nariz del Diablo riders

A postcard of Cuenca (home sweet home)

“The Plague We Can’t Escape”

“The Plague We Can’t Escape”
Larry Kramer, writing in the New York Times, notes that 50 million people around the world are infected with HIV, and that “in China, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Russia, the number of AIDS cases is predicted to double by 2010, with a total of 50 million to 75 million infected people in those countries alone.” Kramer says we shouldn’t allow drug companies to keep life-saving and life-prolonging drugs from people who need them.

Media feeding frenzy and Sharks
Last November, I wrote about the fact that was supporting shark aggression hype (remember the “summer of the shark”?) by reporting, on their front page, about an attack. This despite evidence that falling coconuts kill many more people each year. The news business, of course, is just that: the business of supplying compelling content, sometimes at the expense of logic.

Yesterday, ran a story with the headline “Survey: ‘Shark summer’ bred fear, not facts.” The piece includes this paragraph:

“The media coverage was prompted by a bull shark biting off the arm of an 8-year-old boy on a Florida beach July 6, 2001. Overnight, shark bites and sightings became major international news, triggering countless TV news reports and front-page stories and culminating in the Weekly World News tabloid declaring: ‘Castro trained killer sharks to attack U.S.'”

Okay, so the Castro shark story is ridiculous and hilarious. But too bad no mention was made in this article that CNN itself was part of the media’s own feeding frenzy.

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